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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dispatches from Clio's History (part three)
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Brian

Mar 6

Denis, Robert, Ted, Ken, and all,
Denis, thanks for this important article on the
methodology of fantasy analysis
(http://www.geocities.ws/kidhistory/ja/onfa.htm). It
seems that within the psychohistory community
itself, this methodology was acknowledged to be
very much a work in progress. I thought Howard in
his commentary made some excellent suggestions
about how it could be developed further and I
wonder if anyone followed through on these

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suggestions.
Robert, were your comments referring to Ted’s post
or the link to the cold fusion article that followed? It
is not clear to me how this article connects to our
discussion.
What Ted said about “the context of discovery” vs.
“the context of verification” is extremely important
and gets at something that Ken and I have been
talking about quite a bit on this list. I have argued
that theoretical (as opposed to empirical) work has
a legitimate place in psychohistory. It is legitimate
to ask what evidence supports a theory, but the
person who creates the theory should not
necessarily be required to answer this question.
That is the task of empirical researchers.
Sometimes the same person creates a theory and
works to verify it. More commonly, these tasks are
done by different groups of people.
In fact this division of labor is often institutionalized
in different subfields of the same discipline, such
as theoretical and experimental physics or
economic theory (e.g. Keynes) and econometrics.
In psychohistory, DeMause is a theorist and it
remains for others to test his theories. This is
exactly what Ted has done. The data set he has
assembled is a good one for testing the theory. If

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proponents of Lloyd’s theory think that Ted has
misinterpreted the data, then it is incumbent on
them to ask for the complete set of cartoons and
make the case that an alternative interpretation of
that data does, in fact, confirm Lloyd’s theory. If
that can’t be done, then the theory stands
disconfirmed. I am not interested in doing this
further research myself because I don’t believe in
Lloyd’s theory that changes in mass psychology
cause wars.
I also agree with Ted’s point that social phenomena
are far too chaotic, like the weather, to be modelled
mathematically with a high degree of precision. A
good illustration of this is the random variability
governing the leadership element in politics. If
Hitler or someone like him had not been born, or if
he had been assassinated early on, the entire
history of the 20th century might have turned out
very differently. If you factor in this kind of
randomness in the case of all the other great
powers, strict historical determinism breaks down
altogether.
That said, a great scientific genius is someone who
can sift through the chaos of history and identify a
fundamental process that is predictable. I would
argue that Marx was just such a genius. While his
theory was inadequate in many respects and some

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of his predictions were wrong, the major insight in
his work—the mechanism of capital accumulation
that drives the increasing concentration of wealth
under capitalism—has arguably been confirmed
recently by a massive project of data collection and
analysis, reported in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in
the Twenty-First Century.
We are not at that point yet in psychohistory, but I
have argued that research on authoritarianism and
deMause’s psychogenic theory of history may
provide building blocks for such a testable grand
theory. Unlike the case of Marx and Picketty, I
don’t see a way to test such a theory using
quantitative research entirely, but I think that
survey research and interviews with people alive
today can make a contribution to this larger project
of verification. Before turning to this, I need to
respond to Ken’s comments about The
Authoritarian Personality. But I have already said
enough for one post, and will address these
additional topics in another post later today or
tomorrow.
Brian
Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association

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917-628-8253

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 6

Re: I also agree with Ted’s point that social
phenomena are far too chaotic, like the weather, to
be modelled mathematically with a high degree of
precision. A good illustration of this is the random
variability governing the leadership element in
politics. If Hitler or someone like him had not been
born, or if he had been assassinated early on, the
entire history of the 20th century might have turned
out very differently. If you factor in this kind of
randomness in the case of all the other great
powers, strict historical determinism breaks down
altogether.
Goldhagen of course disagrees with your assertion
about Hitler -- he looks to the nature of the German
people. Gotz Aly, in "Why Hitler, Why Jews," does
as well. Anyone looking for support of DeMause

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may want to look to these authors, rather to what's
coming down now through the pipeline in
psychohistory.
I read the IPA newsletter Brian linked to us, and
really appreciate the book review where the writer
argued the point I've been arguing here in regards
to psychohistorians -- that many of us will be
foremost motivated to keep the reputations of our
own parents intact while we explore our subjects;
that in a regressive period, the discipline risks
being hijacked by abuse-apologizers -- but Brian's
point of view here is standard conservative History
even if he is not, the one that belittles all young,
rash theory; the one that inflates the limits of
human reach. Right or wrong (and I of course this
it's wrong), it's one that any scold of youthful
ambition would approve.
Incidently, if we're in an intellectual environment
that ends up in agreement with Brian, that the
smallest of things might make the most telling of
differences, advantage goes to the person who has
done the most surveying, the person who has
inspected absolutely every corner. Disadvantage to
those, who haven't read anywhere near as much,
but actually have a better capacity to discern what
matters from what doesn't -- you can frustrate them
by asking them if they considered this .... and

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this ... and this ... and this .... and this further
avalanche of facts, because out any old dusty
cellar might have emerged the telling difference!
It's a way of keeping a whole field, better to
oneself, and away from the young.
-- Patrick
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 6

Sorry, in my response I accidentally conflated two
interesting pieces from the IPA Winter 2015
newsletter -- the book review by Valerie Rose
Brinton, and the report from France by Marc-Andre
Cotton.
I referred to Goldhagen and Aly, because if it turns
out that there are some intuiting that DeMause
might be right in his deterministic sense of human
history, but might be balked from contesting those
who see history as too vast to get such a simple
handle on because they haven't done the lengthy
service in libraries ostensibly required even to

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begin to debate, just know that there are some with
the same gargantuan dump of facts in their heads
as any, that have come to argue for your point of
view. Maybe be proven wrong regardless, but stick
to it!
If you see these scholars being contested, look for
ad hominems ... as much as the sense of the
variableness, the randomness of history was once
an exciting prospect for youthful Romantics, every
time I've encountered in the discipline of history it's
being done by someone like Barzun, who steps
into the debate all worldly-wise, having kept such
lengthy company with the masters.
I also realize that the idea of historical "ecologies"
as complex is a potentially progressive idea,
because it speaks against the quick lordly passover (i.e. values the subjects), and values the
student's powers of sympathy and sensitivity; but if
this idea is being praised because it frustrates the
less knowledgeable but more presumptive -- one's
who might actually see!!!! -- it's in service to
conservatism. I hope that makes sense.
-- Patrick

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J. I. (Hans`) Bakker

Mar 6

Dear Howard, Brian, Denis, Robert, Ted, Ken, and
everyone interested in the topic,
Greetings from Boston, Massaschusetts, where
tonight it is cold, but tomorrow it is supposed to get
a bit warmer!
My key point is about falsifiability and our
epistemological assumptions about "science". The
same or very similar point is being made by others
who are reacting to some of Brian's statements.
For many of us a "grand theory" is never really
testable scientifically. Paradigmatic theory is by
definition a set of hard to prove or disprove axioms.
But psychohistory does not seem to really have
much "research theory" of the kind that really can
be subject to reasonable empirical test. There are
no classical experiments in psychohistory, in part
because as an "intediscipline" about half of it is
history. There is no real possibility of an
experimental design in history, at least not an

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experimental design with random assignment.
We are discussing a lot of things at the same time,
as usual. I am not against using cartoons as
empirical examples of fantasy or some other
aspect of the imagination. In the social sciences we
often use illustrative examples. Sometimes we
even do that in a somewhat rigorous way (e.g.
content analysis of mass media). But that is rarely
conclusive evidence for or against a general
theory. My point is that the evidence should be
used very systematically if we are going to have a
real "test" of a theory. Moreover, to test a theory it
must be a "research theory" amenable to tesing.
That means the research must really operationalize
the variables in very rigorous ways. I am not sure
the example we have been given really does that,
even though it is interesting and worthwhile. (I
would have been proud to do it and to have had it
published.)
Richard Koeningsberg's work is interesting and I
often read his posts. I have no trouble with his
general "research paradigm" and of course I agree
with many of the things he writes. But often he
does not present testable "research theory". There
are different interpretations of the rise of the Nazi's
and what precisely they represent. For example,
Eric R. Wolf has an interesting research theory

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about the Nazis which comes entirely from a
comparative anthropological perspective, although
he does add some assumptions about
psychological processes. But he is quite different
from DeMause in his approach, or does DeMause
also discuss the Kwakiutl and the Aztecs in terms
of raw power (Macht) and "legitimate authority"
(Herrschaft)? I am not saying Wolf is right and
Koenigsberg is wrong. I am saying it is very hard to
have the kind of definitive empirical test that Brian
seems to think is a key component of a valid
psychohistorical account.
Cheers from Boston,
Hans

J. I. Bakker

Brian

Mar 6

Hans, Patrick, Ken and all,
Hans, yes grand theory strictly speaking is not
testable. It is what Kuhn called a paradigm, a

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general conceptual framework. But if the
framework is scientific, testable theories can be
derived from it, at least according to Kuhn
(Structure of Scientific Revolutions). For example,
Newtonian mechanics is predicated on three
dimensional Euclidian geometry and absolute time
as a separate dimension. This paradigm is not
directly testable, but the laws of motion, theory of
gravitation, and theory of light formulated in this
framework do yield testable predictions, which
were in fact tested by Michaelson and Morley in the
1880s. This resulted in an anomaly that could not
be resolved within the Newtonian paradigm and
required a whole new way of thinking about time
and space, which was provided by Einstein’s
special and general relativity.
As for economics, if neoclassical theory does not
yield testable predictions, then it is not a scientific
paradigm and if it does, then the fact that no one
has formulated such predictions and tested them is
a commentary on the scientific immaturity of
economics as a discipline. Ted, the fact that the
social sciences have been around for a long time
does not mean that they are mature sciences, as
Kuhn used the term. A mature science is one in
which there is a consensus around a paradigm and
an organized program of empirical research
deriving predictions and testing them. This does

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not describe the state of the economics discipline,
though it remains to be seen if Marx’s paradigm
and the theory of capital accumulation that derives
from it, which Piketty has tested, will put the
discipline on more solid scientific foundations.
Note also that deriving “predictions” does not
necessarily mean predicting the future, as the word
prediction is commonly used. In statistical
research, we say that a model “predicts” certain
values of the dependent variable(s) given certain
values of the independent variable(s). In this kind
of research, explanation involves generating a
model that can account for the data. That is what
Piketty has done. We will not know how robust the
model is until we apply it to new data, but this could
be data from the past that was not previously
known or collected. That is also what historians do
using non-statistical methods. They generate
theories that can account for the available
evidence and the test of these theories is whether
they hold up when new evidence becomes
available. Often the evidence was already known,
but not known to the individual historian, so when
they publish their work other historians say, “but
your theory is not consistent with x, y, z evidence,
which you have not considered.”
Patrick, as I explained in greater detail in previous

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posts, Goldhagen’s and any other theories that try
to explain historical events entirely in terms of
mass psychology are not viable, for reasons I will
summarize briefly in the next paragraph. Like
deMause, Goldhagen has gotten very little respect
among mainstream historians. Your explanation is
that those who reject such disturbing theories are
personally threatened by them. Saying this in an
academic forum, as you repeatedly do, is as
unproductive as it would be for people to tell you
that you are clinging to simplistic deMausian
orthodoxy because you personally cannot handle
complexity and ambiguity and need to attach
yourself to an infallible guru. So let’s leave aside
all such arguments and stick to the substantive
issues.
If the Third Reich was caused entirely by mass
psychology, how do you account for the fact that
left political parties outpolled right parties in
German elections for decades before Hitler came
to power and that Germany immediately became a
stable democracy after Hitler was defeated? (Note
that it did NOT become a stable democracy after
Germany’s defeat in World War I). DeMause
attributes such things reductively to child-rearing,
but that factor changes on a time-scale of
generations, while the Third Reich came and went
in less than a generation.

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Ken, I am aware of the criticisms of Adorno et al’s
The Authoritarian Personality that you mention.
However, subsequent research by Bob Altemeyer
(Enemies of Freedom) and myself (“Self Images of
Hawks and Doves”) addressed these criticisms and
found that Adorno et al’s findings were robust even
though their methodology was flawed. In my
research, I measured authoritarianism purely as a
personality construct and measured hawk and
dove beliefs and policy preferences as a separate
construct, correcting the fundamental
methodological problem with The Authoritarian
Personality. I found that machismo and
authoritarianism explained nearly half the variance
in hawk and dove beliefs for males, and
authoritarianism also strongly predicts hawk and
dove beliefs for females. In other words
authoritarianism is positively correlated with hawk
beliefs and negatively correlated with dove beliefs,
and the correlations were much larger than are
normally found in social science research. This is
a striking confirmation of Adorno et al’s findings.
Their study also continues to be relevant because
they conducted interviews along with their survey
research.
So how can this help test deMause’s psychogenic
paradigm? First, we need to realize that research

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on phenomena in the present can shed light on
phenomena from the past. A good example is in
biology, where laboratory research on DNA has
shed light on the mechanisms of natural selection,
and thus of the history of life. In the case of
psychohistory, the research on the present is basic
research on human psychology encompassing all
the subdisciplines including, cognitive,
neuropsychology, clinical, and political psychology.
If we find that child rearing affects political belief
systems in the present, we have reason to believe
that it also affected them in the past, because the
fundamental conditions of human existence have
not changed appreciably in recent millennia. I
acknowledged that a great deal of empirical work
needs to be done in this area, but based on
authoritarianism and other psychological research,
as well as deMause’s and other work on the history
of childrearing, I believe we have the makings for a
science of psychohistory, albeit not a mature
science.
The role of neuropsychology is central. In
mainstream psychology and the social sciences
today, the brain is viewed as an information
processing system and behavior is thought to be
driven by cognition of the environment. While
individual differences in personality and motivation
loom large for clinicians, these factors are thought

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to be unimportant in mainstream political
psychology, economics, and political science,
which are dominated by “rational actor” models. If
this way of thinking is valid, there should be little or
no correlation between personality self-assessment
and political beliefs. I tested this theory in my
hawks and doves research and disconfirmed it. I
proposed an alternative “control systems”
paradigm that subsumes the personality driven and
cognition driven explanations of human behavior
into a unified conceptual framework. On this I built
on William T. Powers pioneering work Behavior:
the Control of Perception, which provides a view of
the brain as a network of negative feedback
systems. Powers and his associates have done
some impressive robotic modeling of human
behavior using these ideas, though behaviorist and
cognitive thinking continues to dominate
mainstream neuropsychology.
I would like to suggest that basic theory in
psychology, which yields testable predictions and
will be confirmed or disconfirmed through research
on people who are alive today, can provide the
theory necessary to understand the historical
process scientifically. The nexus between child
rearing practices, personality, and behavior
requires empirical research if psychohistory is ever
to become a science. Then it will be necessary to

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combine this knowledge with traditional historical
research to understand the historical process.
There is no simple way of doing this, but the way
that laboratory work on genetics informs
evolutionary biology is a model.
Brian
Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
—————
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 7

Since I've been with the list I've heard arguments
for two different courses for the subsequent
development of psychohistory.
The first is that it must accept that what it has is
theory in abundance, but what it hasn't is adequate
testing to see if there's anything to it. Young
psychohistorians are to be recruited to not only test
theories, but to show that the discipline is coming

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to have science in its bones -- no longer will you
have psychohistorians fluff out books and books of
outrageous theories and be irked when someone
arrives who dares poke at any of it; no longer will it
be a cult! It'll be modest, humble, but nevertheless
through an accumulation of sober studies of limited
scope, demonstrate convincing proof for theories
that will begin to lead psychohistory into being a
worthy regular contributor to the social sciences
and History disciplines. No grand, allencompassing theories; no egos. Everything within
the decor expected of contemporary science …
and maybe then some.
The second, argued mostly by me, is that what
psychohistory needs to do is make sure it's
drawing in emotionally healthy members. If it
doesn't get them, you can't trust their science -research will inevitably prove the big egos within
the discipline either wrong or vastly overreaching,
and support psychohistorians who offer useful
kernels of proof that while not earth-shattering,
nevertheless are ostensibly unique contributions
scholars in other disciplines will find useful for their
own studies. If you don't get them, the future of
psychohistory will be to inevitably keep it tamed.
I've heard a lot of support for the first course —
more testing, more humility — but I was delighted

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to find support for my cause within the IPA Winter
2015 newsletter. If you haven't read it, it
commences with a book review of an exploration of
childhood memory and abuse by Valerie Rose
Birton, and reflects on the possibility that the key
divide in the research is in the nature of the
childhoods of the researchers, between those who
as children grew into adults who carried the
mandate of protecting their parents and those who
didn't. Specifically, the problem is with adults, with
researchers, who ... often act out their drive to
protect parents and reenact their childhood
traumas from the position of entitlement and
privilege, now that they are the adults. They
treat their own children as they were treated,
requiring them to honor their parents more
than the truth, just as they did when they were
younger . . . . There are too many researchers
who are unconsciously and deeply driven to
protect parents and as such, they seek
evidence that immunizes parents.
Valerie Rose Birton argues that what is alarming is
that regressives are taking over the science.
Specifically she writes:
The account of Dr. Snyder’s harrowing legal
encounter with the scientifically sparse but
widely publicized movement against child

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abuse memories reveals the degree to which
these forces have infiltrated the field of child
abuse research and treatment, and exemplifies
the damaging impact this has had on
therapists, on protective parents and on
children who have been abused.
Birton is alarmed because if this lot comes to own
the field, she knows that plenty of science will be
done … that will inevitably conclusively
demonstrate whatever is required to protect
parents and leave children vulnerable to abuse.
Other researchers contesting them will be
powerless, because scientific proof won’t matter so
much as the collusion of the scientific community,
who aren’t ultimately beholden to science but to the
approval of brutal parents somewhere kept in their
heads. Guilt over mishandling the scientific
endeavour won’t factor in, because the need to find
proof for research will mostly be overladen by the
need to keep their own abusive parents looking
good. Every time they think they feel pleasure for
their doing good sober science, it’ll really have
arisen because they’ve conferred authority to
studies that will further safeguard their parents.
Within the same newsletter, Marc-Andre Cotton
discusses infiltration within the French
psychotherapy profession. He writes:

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While 36.8% of all Europeans face emotional
distress according to a recent survey, the
French authorities decided to reserve the title
of psychotherapist to medical doctors and
psychologists only, without requiring any
personal therapy in their curriculum.
Conversely, many certified therapists claiming
a long practice but with no medical background
are currently losing the right to exercise their
profession–in violation of a legal principle of
equity.
And concludes:
From my standpoint, psychohistory’s
framework of interpretation could offer a
meaningful perspective on this conflict,
reaching far beyond the scope of such
professions. On the one hand, we indeed find
genuine therapists–mostly women– dedicated
to helping their clients heal unresolved grief
and trauma by offering trust and empathy. On
the other, politicians and bureaucrats, serving
the interests of the pharmaceutical giants and
organized medicine, are seeking to delegitimize
such work, which will most certainly prove
counter-productive in terms of public mental
health. I see this as a clash of what

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psychohistorians call “psychoclasses,” one of
which believes in imposing bureaucratic order,
reflecting their intrusive childrearing, while the
other believes in the crucial relevance of
listening, reflecting their experience of
nurturing. Let us hope that the latter prevails!
Cotton concludes the effort to professionalize
psychotherapy, infiltrate it only with PhDs, might be
an infiltration of the intrusive psychoclass, coming
at the cost of those from what DeMause calls the
more evolved, “helping” psychoclass. If we hear
calls for more professionalization here, at
psychohistory, maybe we should expect it’s moved
by the same -- keep an eye on the wayward.
In my judgment, there are few fields that are more
likely going to attract those unconsciously
motivated to protect abusive parents and provide
further frustration for abused children, than the field
of psychohistory. It’s saturated by the idea that
childrearing matters, that abuse within families is
historically prevalent and results not just in
wrecked homes but in distraught whole societies
and sick widespread social phenomena like
Depressions and wars.
DeMausian psychohistory in particular should be
expected to draw in those operating under the

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influence of their abusive parents, neutering it,
effectively steering it into oblivion for good,
because DeMause not only talks about abuse and
caregivers but, appallingly! goes where even child
right supporters take care not to roam: he focuses
attention on the one who spends most of the time
with children — one’s mother — and refuses to lie
to those who expect that the neglected, abused,
denigrated, patriarchally suppressed mother will do
anything other than incestuously use her children
and discard them when they’re no longer of use. To
get a sense of how brazen this is, consider that
when on this list Brian explained to Molly Castelloe
that:
The fact that infant care in our society is
assigned almost exclusively to females means
that the deepest and most unconscious
introjects of both sexes are female. It also
means that when adults of both sexes project
this infantile material, it is onto women that we
project it. Note that all this operates
independently of the quality of parenting, which
has been Lloyd deMause's focus.
it’s possible that this — we’re not talking what any
particular mother may have done to their child but
just universals of human behaviour, which
presumably are vastly more relevant than

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“variations,” so don’t think when we discuss it think
we’re actually considering what you may or may
not be doing with your children (what may have
brought this whole discussion on) ... we wouldn't
dare touch that! — wasn’t so much explaining as it
was mollifying … mollifying the internal Terrifying
Mother within so many of us that would want to
spank down the affront of DeMause, and react to
any irked mother (sorry Molly) as if she bore the
power of his own.
— Patrick
dr.bobstern

Mar 7

Re: Patrick's post
Is there a link between psychopathology and the
Scientific Method?
"There are too many researchers who are
unconsciously and deeply driven to protect
parents and as such, they seek evidence that

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immunizes parents."
But, aren't there plenty of
researchers demonstrating particular mental and
physical consequences of child abuse?
http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/c/child_abuse.
htm
If I read Patrick's post correctly:
The hypothesis
(assertion?) proposed is: Advocates for scientific
research on particular psychohistorical hypotheses
(group 1) are substantially populated by
the "emotionally unhealthy."
At the risk of a priori confirming my mother's abuse
of me by even posing the question: I think the
hypothesis needs more scientific study.
B

Ken Fuchsman

Mar 7

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Some are saying we should treat psychohistory
scientifically. History is not classified as a science,
but a humanity, though history certainly has
scientific elements within it. Academic psychology
is a social science, yet much of psychology outside
of academia has as much affinity with the
humanities as the sciences. Those who look at
psychohistory primarily through a scientific lens are
one-sided. They are not recognizing that the
humanities are as integral to what psychohistory is
as science, and are underplaying the complexity of
psychology, history and psychohistory. Science
has revolutionized knowledge and set high
epistemological standards. Yet for all its
significance, when it comes to many things, we do
not need scientism, and this is true for
psychohistory as well as many other things central
to life. So let us be more balanced when discussing
the nature of psychohistory.
dr.bobstern

Mar 7

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Absolutely agree, Ken.
There are historical matters that lend themselves to
proper historical investigation: examining primary
documents (correspondence, etc). Whether those
documents are authentic lends itself to scientific
methodologies -- chemical analysis of the age of
paper, ink, etc.
But, if a theorist claims that the gene that makes
broccoli taste bad (or that weaning before the age
of 9 months) has a significant causal connection to
some (psycho)historical outcomes, this certainly
suggests that a discipline that wants to be taken
seriously does more than engage in academic
discussions to establish the hypothesis as proven
fact.
B

Brian

Mar 7

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Ken, I completely agree with everything you have
said here. Kumbaya, brother. J I have always
argued against reductionism, including the
reductionism of physicists, many of whom claim
that a unified theory of the laws of physics would
be a “theory of everything.” In fact, biology cannot
be reduced to physics, and neuropsychology
cannot be reduced to biology. Psychology and
history have one foot in the natural sciences
(because the human body and brain are part of
nature) and one foot in the humanities for the
reasons you say. My position would be “scientism”
and one-sided if I were trying to reduce psychology
and history to natural science, which I am not. I do
argue that psychology, history, and psychohistory
are potentially sciences, but not ONLY sciences. I
have been discussing the scientific side of these
disciplines, but did not mean to exclude the
humanistic side. Here Freud, who in many
respects is not one of my favorite people, was
indeed a pioneer in creating a psychology that
sought to integrate natural science and the
humanities. We need to build on and update that
project.
Further, even a comprehensive
scientific/humanistic psychohistory would be one-

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sided if it sought to reduce all of history to
psychohistory. In this respect, I do not agree with
psychohistorians who define the field as
uncovering the “why of history,” which in practice
reduces the “why” to unconscious motivations.
Rather I have argued, in the tradition of the
Frankfurt School (of which Adorno et al were
members), that a complete understanding of
history can only be achieved by combining a
psychohistorical approach with an analysis of
socioeconomic and institutional factors. In this
respect, I think Trevor’s work is exemplary, and
want to add my own kudos about his new book to
all the others that have already been expressed.
Brian
Brian D’Agostino, Ph.D.
President
International Psychohistorical Association
917-628-8253
Ralph Fishkin

Mar 7

31

Other recipients: rfish...@gmail.com
Patrick,
As usual, your final paragraph is a killer. I think I’ve
finally got it. I have trouble with your perspectives
on two grounds:
1. You polarize.
2. You have a cause. You wrote, in another killer
paragraph,
"The second, argued mostly by me, is that what
psychohistory needs to do is make sure it's
drawing in emotionally healthy members. If
it doesn't get them, you can't trust their science -research will inevitably prove the big egos within
the discipline either wrong or vastly overreaching,
and support psychohistorians who offer useful
kernels of proof that while not earth-shattering,
nevertheless are ostensibly unique contributions
scholars in other disciplines will find useful for their
own studies. If you don't get them, the future of
psychohistory will be to inevitably keep it tamed.
"I’ve heard a lot of support for the first course —
more testing, more humility — but I was delighted

32

to find support for my cause within the IPA Winter
2015 newsletter."
If someone disagrees with your cause, they will
become your emotionally unhealthy and
untrustworthy adversary, and then we will all be off
onto an argument in which we will try but will be
unable to convert each other to the our own point
of view. I sense that you are looking to create this
kind of interaction. We have had polarizers with
missionary causes on this list before and this has
resulted in fights that dominated the discussions
and polarized the subscribers in a destructive way.
Therefore I am not taking issue with a number of
your assertions that I think are generalizations that
are determined by your cause, which I think is to
destroy the abusive authoritarian parent (mother)
that you think we have all had but that those of us
with “big egos” protect. Freud separately
promulgated the hypotheses that emotional illness
could be attributed both to trauma and also
originate in phantasy. He never took back the
seduction hypothesis. I suggest that we strive for
nuance and steer clear of trying to convert each
other in our discussions.
Ralph

33

On Mar 7, 2015, at 9:46 AM, Patrick McEvoyHalston <pmcevoy...@gmail.com> wrote:
it’s possible that this — we’re not talking what any
particular mother may have done to their child but
just universals of human behaviour, which
presumably are vastly more relevant than
“variations,” so don’t think when we discuss it think
we’re actually considering what you may or may
not be doing with your children (what may have
brought this whole discussion on) ... we wouldn't
dare touch that! — wasn’t so much explaining as it
was mollifying … mollifying the internal Terrifying
Mother within so many of us that would want to
spank down the affront of DeMause, and react to
any irked mother (sorry Molly) as if she bore the
power of his own.
=============================
Ralph E. Fishkin, D.O.
Secretary, American Psychoanalytic Association
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 8 (23 hours ago)

34

Other recipients: rfish...@gmail.com
Thanks for the history of the site, Ralph.
I came to this site wondering how much was being
done to engage with DeMause's theories. What
I've found is that there are people (at the IPA
newsletter) who are finding evidence in our times
of what DeMause would expect -- progressive
groups are being infiltrated by regressives; more
and more people are experiencing growth panic
and finding themselves in agreement with punitive
adults and skeptical of children -- and, frightened,
seem to be suggesting that we might all want to
explore his work with urgency. I didn't know of
these people; maybe I'll be able to say something
of value to them. I'll be tempering down to see
what more activity is out "there," but the idea of
children desiring seduction disgusts me.
-- Patrick
—————
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

35

Mar 9 (22 hours ago)

I'm a book and film reviewer. If anyone would like
to read my explorations of literature, please feel
free to explore them here:
Draining the Amazons' Swamp (Scribd)
or here:
the Psycholiterary Review
-- Patrick
P.S. I've been doing film reviews for the last few
years; I'll post a link to them as well at some point.
Barney

Mar 9 (19 hours ago)
Images are not displayed

36

Display images in this post - Always display
images from Barney - Always display images in
Clio’s Psyche
Dear Cliofolk,
If you are in the mood for a semi-Professor Irwin
Corey, semi-Borges, 95% semi-whacky, strangely
fascinating, like a crooked Escher crossed with
Elmore Leonard, entirely cool (if you ignore the
occasional semi-precious semi-clevernesses) and
wickedly entertaining evaluation of the semifictional characters of Gulliver (Swift) and Robinson
(DeFoe) Crusoe, then rush to your address line
and copy in
http://www.scribd.com/doc/25499784/Draining-theAmazon-s-Swamp-All-we-are-prepared-to-dowhen-we-read-write-watch-make-live-our-fictions
and enjoy the talent of Patrick McEvoy-Halston
(what's that monicker all about?) that lurks behind
every sentence.
Entertaining, stimulating, only occasionally leaves
you dangling in hothouse verbiage that is easy to
detect and to skip.
I am kind of shock and awed. There are a whole

37

parade of other essays I have not yet read, but I
suspect will have worthy moments.
When you aren't watching Fox News at 10, you
might enjoy draining the Amazon swamp, meaning
the on-line store, of course.
Barney

Dispatches from Clio's History (part two)
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HlMqaMSHaqo/VRVlqG160tI/AAAAAAAAAig/UBsUwFsgNM/s1600/Unknown.jpeg

Joel Markowitz
We should again try to clarify the differences
between the
psychodynamics of the INDIVIDUAL -- and the
psychodynamics of
GROUPS-- in history.
No one would dispute the value of maternal love in
the evolution of
individuals. It tends to be a major source of selfacceptance, selfconfidence, courage and of social advantages ...

38

But the determinism of history-- i.e., primarily of
GROUP-minds-- is
more complicated.
E.g., many individuals in many PRIMITIVE
subgroups have been brought
up with the advantages of significant maternal love
and acceptance.
In contrast, and as we know, Western groups were
not impressive in
their child-rearing practices-- including in their
acceptance and
love of their children.
In fact, the Jewish and Christian groups
DEPENDED ON the
criminalization of primitive impulses-- which are
immediately evident
in children.
No one better describes the often-brutal, guiltdriven behavior of
-- especially-- those Western-group parents toward
their children-than did deMause.
Yet those Jewish and Christian groups became
disproportionately

39

successful-- in their social, political, legislative
and material
progress.
Parental love and acceptance (which tend to be
strongly related) seem
in some ways INVERSELY related to group
success.
Clio does make progress in approaching
psychodynamic theory more than
it used to do. But it too often tries to understand
group evolution
(fundamental to history) with the dynamics of
individuals.
Joel

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

40

Feb 17

Hi Joel.
E.g., many individuals in many PRIMITIVE
subgroups have been brought
up with the advantages of significant maternal love
and acceptance.
You bring up how well DeMause documented the
West's brutal childrearing, but you don't reference
at all the work he did to establish the allegedly
miraculous childrearing of tribal cultures as in fact
completely wretched. (For those who want to
explore that, you an go here, and here). What
gives? ... I hope not that the very same people who
enjoy seeing the West's past as barbaric,
profoundly want primitive subgroups to be
idealized?
As you know, in the DeMausian view, other than
what he calls the helping psychoclass -- which has
only very recently come into existence -- every
single other psychoclass has got some major
problems with it. However, each new wretched
class that appeared was superior than the one
before it. E.g. the socializing psychoclass -- which

41

only gave love if children did as parents expected
-- was better than the intrusive, the abandoning,
the ambivalent.
What I'm getting at is that if you accept his view of
how appalling tribal culture (those of the infanticidal
psychoclass) childrearing is -- how little interest in,
how much they can hate, their children -- guiltridden behaviour is actually a considerable step
up ... it represents the psychic/emotional state of a
considerably more evolved psychoclass, "who"
were going to much more accept societal growth,
spend less time switching into their social trance,
spend less time fiddling over their childhood
traumas.
-- Patrick
Joel Markowitz

Feb 17
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: maternal love
Patrick,

42

I don't idealize them at all. But while some were
brutal, many were loving and accepting of their
offspring-- beyond anything we know.
And not just tribal cultures-- also some Asian &
other cultures. ALMOST ALL but the Jewish and
Christian (and to some extent, Moslem) mindsets
were spared the unique guilt that drove
Western-group self-hatred, self-denigration,
sexual and other repressions, obsessions,
compulsions, other neuroses ...
My emphasis (again and again) is on the
UNIQUELY guilt-driven mindset of the Jewish and
Christian groups-- which attacked the fantasies and
impulses that are most important to every child-- as
to all higher animal groups.
No, I wouldn't change OUR unique-- and in many
ways uniquely wonderful-- situation for any in
history. As uniquely stressful as it has proven to
be, it has been the cutting edge of evolution.
Joel
Brian

43

Feb 18
RE: [cliospsyche] Re: maternal love
This conversation is beyond my area of my
expertise, but I do have some opinions which I’ll
share in the hopes that more informed people will
take the discussion further. Yes, Molly, it seems to
me that parental love for infants will normally be
ambivalent, even if the love they received as
infants was not. Let’s take the ideal case of an
infant reared with unambivalent love.
Notwithstanding this ideal environment, the infant
will necessarily experience the mother ambivalently
in the first three months of life during the paranoidschizoid position, as shown by Melanie Klein. In
the ideal case, the child will transcend this position
in the normal course of development and, if they
encounter little or no further trauma in their life, this
paranoid-schizoid complex will have no apparent
effect on their adult personality.
However, the paranoid schizoid experience
remains in the unconscious unless integrated into
the personality through psychoanalysis or some
similar process. As an adult, caring for their own
infant will necessarily evoke this unconscious

44

paranoid-schizoid complex, resulting in parental
love that is ambivalent. Further, in a society in
which infant care is almost exclusively assigned to
women, the part object mother introjects from the
paranoid schizoid stage will be projected onto all
women, which perpetuates sex-stereotyping and
reinforces the gender caste system in the larger
society, a phenomenon explored in depth by Nancy
Chodorow in The Reproduction of Mothering and
Dorothy Dinnerstein in The Mermaid and the
Minotaur.
Note also that while sex-stereotyped cultures are
far more common than not, they are not universal.
One notable exception, for example, is the Aka
Pygmies, in which male and female adults are
almost equally involved in infant care; see Barry
Hewlett’s Intimate Fathers: The Nature and
Context of Aka Pygmy Paternal Infant Care. In
such a society, the parental introjects of the
paranoid schizoid stage will be male and female,
and as adults, this complex will be projected
equally onto male and females, hence the lack of
sex-typing in such cultures. “Primitive” cultures
may vary in the quality of infant care they provide
(here I disagree with Joel that it is necessarily good
and with deMause that it is necessarily bad) but as
for gender equality, the Aka Pygmies may be the
most advanced culture on the planet and provide

45

living proof that viable alternatives to the gender
caste system are possible.

Dcarveth

Feb 18
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: maternal love
Brian,
No one ever receives unambivalent love for such
does not exist. But even if it did the infant would
hate as well as love for even unambivalent love
would not be able to protect the infant from
frustration. Not even unambivalent love, which
doesn't exist, could save the child from the horrible
existential fact that it cannot have its cake and eat
it too--not to mention the fact that no one gets out
of here alive. Given its cognitive limitations, as far
as the infant is concerned all frustration is an
attack. Hence all infants, no matter the quality of
the caretaking will be paranoid. Bad caretaking, of
course, makes it worse, and good caretaking

46

makes it better, but we all enter the paranoidschizoid position, which is not a stage but a
position, a layer of the human psyche that no one
really "transcends"--thank god, for here is where
passion resides, falling in love, the political passion
that forced FDR to implement the New Deal and
that put Hitler down, etc. As Klein explains, splitting
in PS provides the first ordering of experience;
people who can't split live in psychotic chaos;
people who can only split live in borderline
disorder; people who spend more time in D live in
neurotic conflict--but even the healthiest and most
mature revisit PS frequently (bad moods, irritability,
crankiness, but also intense lust, ecstatic love,
deep anger, etc.) but have a capacity to oscillate
back into D. Marriage that exists only in D is mostly
characterized by "dead bed" for a vital sex life
requires a capacity to experience rapid oscillations
between PS (where one's partner is an object to be
used) and D (where one's partner is one's
cherished beloved). I agree with Dinnerstein's
argument for the need for fathers and mothers to
share equally in primary caretaking.
Don
—————

47

Brian

Feb 27

I have been thinking about the sources of the
apocalyptic complex, for lack of a better word,
namely the splitting of the world into absolute good
and absolute evil. I have come to the conclusion
that it is rooted in the birth trauma or infant
experience or both. I am reading Hannah Segal’s
book Klein, and thinking about the Kleinian notion
of the paranoid-schizoid position as a possible
model for understanding this. According to Klein,
as I understand her theory, the infant in the first
three months of life alternates between a state of
wellbeing organized around the “good breast” and
experiences of pleasure and satisfaction, on the
one hand, and the “persecutory breast” and
experiences of distress and frustration on the other.
It is not clear to me what reason there is to
suppose that the infant experiences distress and
frustration as an attack, as supposed to the mere
absence of pleasure and satisfaction. What is the
evidence or theoretical rationale for Klein’s way of
thinking about infant experience?

48

I should mention that this problem does not arise
with the theory that the birth trauma is the source
of the apocalyptic complex. Here, it is entirely
plausible that the infant in the birth canal
experiences the mother’s body as an antagonistic
force that is trying to destroy it and feels locked into
a titanic life and death struggle to escape from and
survive the ordeal. Clinical evidence for this theory
is provided by Stanislav Grof in Realms of the
Human Unconscious: Observations from LDS
research. When I referred to Grof previously on this
list, Don said, if I remember correctly, that there is
a methodological problem with Grofs’s claim that
the memories reported to him actually originated in
the birth experience. But if this is true, doesn’t the
same methodological problem arise with Klein’s
theory? Given this ambiguity, is there any
empirical or theoretical criteria for deciding
between Klien’s and Grof’s theories?
Brian
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 28

49

I have been thinking about the sources of the
apocalyptic complex, for lack of a better word,
namely the splitting of the world into absolute good
and absolute evil. I have come to the conclusion
that it is rooted in the birth trauma or infant
experience or both.
If it's birth trauma, then it's something all of us
experience, regardless of how well loved we were
by our caregivers. If we weren't actually all that well
loved, if we had caregivers who felt threatened
anytime we as their children impugned them, we
can avoid re-experiencing the early
childhood feeling of apocalyptic abandonment -their rejection -- by taking something like
psychoanalysis -- which might look a tool to add
science in a campaign against them -- and making
it in fact a shield against making a "fetish" of the
particularities of our own experience. Birth trauma
does this aptly; it might attract as a theory because
our internal persecutors sense it's actually means
to show how intent "you" are to in fact take the eye
off them.
There's not much universal birth trauma in
DeMause's later works; plenty in his earlier. He
mentions the work of Joseph Rheingold a lot, and

50

focuses on how a child develops a fear
of apocalyptic annihilation because their mothers
were actually afflicted with desires to kill them.
He talks about how having children represents a
form of self-actualization, a turn towards having
one's own needs for love attended to rather than
keeping focused on one's mothers, and this
leading to mothers being possessed by internal
terrifying mother alters, demanding sacrifice. But
when he brings up Rheingold, he's not thinking of
mothers being possessed but more how they
project their demanding mothers onto the child:
The parents of the caretaker are still present as
“ghosts in the nursery” when
the child is born, in the form of dissociated
persecutory alters (alternative
personalities)—internal objects and voices that
repeat the traumas and fears the
caretaker experienced as a child, since “The hurtful
parent was once a hurt child.”30
Parents often believe that when their babies cry
they “sound just like my mother,
complaining all the time” or “just like my father, a
real tyrant!” They themselves

51

repeat exactly the same words and feelings their
own mothers always yelled at them:
“You’re so selfish! You never think of me!”31 The
mother experiences herself as the
good, persecuted mother while the baby is seen as
a primarily bad, utterly
persecuting and justifiable object of hatred.32 The
helpless, vulnerable child
experiences this reenactment of maternal fear and
hatred as ending in abandonment
or death.
Anyway, to DeMause, if the child has the luck of
having well-cared for parents, the apocalyptic
experience would seem to go the way of the
dodo ... not being experienced at all. This isn't in
sync with his earlier writings, when he's thinking
Groff and the trauma of asphyxiation and placental
strangling in the womb and being scarily jettisoned
out tunnels, but as his work progresses it would
seem the significance of this experience is mostly
nil ... if the child lives within the womb of a wellcared for mother, and exits to much the same.
Apparent universality ... only because "history is a
nightmare we are still waking up from": most
mothers have not historically been all that well

52

cared for.
-- Patrick
P.S. His discussion of splitting ends up being
mostly about a child's need to split off all his/her
mother's negative aspects, so s/he can imagine
her as all-loving. He says most men tend to keep
romanticized images of their mothers, period, but
discusses splitting as becoming the norm for a
whole society in his discussion of the warm-up
period for war -- when we're intent to shuck off our
individuated selves, re-bond to a maternal entity,
and war against some other, now chock-full of our
mother's negative aspects.
—————
Alice Maher

Mar 1

Hi all,
I just posted this on my personal Facebook page
and on Twitter, and I thought I'd share it here as
well. I'm curious if you agree, and if you have any

53

thoughts about the development of our view of God
over the space-time continuum.
Religions try to tell us that our particular god is one
that exists across space and time - "always was
and always will be." But honestly, is that true?
Does anyone believe in Zeus any more?
The Gods of Mount Olympus are to the Gods of
Abraham as the Gods of Abraham are to...
Assuming humankind survives into the 22nd
century - a big if! - our grandchildren will need to
reframe their definition of "god" and come together
in a way that's grounded in reality but at the same
time offers exciting and meaningful new questions
about who we are, where we came from and where
we're going. A face and a name (or a series of
them) may or may not need to be attached to that
question.
In the present day, our relationship to religion is
chaotic and forces us to regress in our ability to
think, feel, and act appropriately and together. The
world is too small to allow that to continue. It won't.
Humankind won't.
Our children deserve better. Our children deserve
to survive.
They need to be able to imagine God in a new way.
Brian

54

Mar 1

This responds to comments by Alice and Bill, as
well as by Trevor and Patrick in the previous thread
on “The Apocalyptic Complex and Early
Experience.”
I like Trevor’s thinking about how the earliest
experience of the mother gets projected onto “the
world;” this is indeed the basis of much mythology
including religious mythology, most notably worship
of the Goddess, which is the oldest and most
enduring of all religious cults in human history.
This archetype of the Great Mother, as Jung called
it, never really disappeared. It is no coincidence
that the Ecumenical Council of 431 CE that
proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God
occurred in Ephesus, the site of one of the most
important goddess cults in the ancient world. The
bishops who met there would, of course, have
been shocked and offended by the suggestion that
they were under the spell of the same archetype as
the pagans who worshipped at Ephesus, but such
are the workings of unconscious complexes in
history.

55

This same example illustrates how new religious
forms arise out of older ones, an issue raised by
Alice. As for our own age, Liberty, depicted in the
Statue of Liberty, and Alma Mater (“nourishing
mother”), whose statue appears on the campus of
Columbia and many other universities, would
appear to be incarnations of the same archetype.
But these are entirely peripheral compared to the
cult of the supermodel, one of the most central of
our capitalist civilization, tended by the advertising
and entertainment priesthoods. So Alice, we don’t
need to invent new religions and probably can’t do
so as a conscious project even if we wanted to.
We already have new religions, though I discuss
below how we can go beyond religion altogether.
Patrick, the very universality of perinatal trauma
(with the exception of Caesarian births, which are
unusual) suggests that it may be another source of
what Jung called archetypes, and I think the early
deMause was correct in recognizing the
importance of this. Note however, that while birth
is traumatic to some extent under virtually all
circumstances, the trauma can be greatly reduced,
as in natural childbirth methods, or greatly
exacerbated, as in the modern medical practice of
separating neonates from their mothers and
isolating them. In any case, birth and rebirth are a

56

universal theme in mythology, however much the
expression of the archetype may be modified in
this or that culture, depending no doubt largely on
the nature of its birthing practices.
Bill, your comment “Nothing is grounded in reality
—It is all about perspective and context,” meshes
with Trevor’s cosmological relativism, which puts
the theory that the earth is the back of a turtle on
the same level as modern cosmological theories.
This is consistent with Trevor’s neo-Kantianism,
but it is not consistent with modern physics, which I
would argue is establishing objective and universal
knowledge of the universe. Kant’s claim that
humans cannot conceptualize external reality
except in terms of the a priori categories of time
and space was invalidated by Einstein’s theory of
General Relativity, which conceptualizes time as
the fourth dimension of a space-time continuum.
The experimental validation of General Relativity
indicates, to me at least, that this view of the
universe is objectively true and universal. To be
sure, modern cosmology is a work in progress, and
even the Big Bang theory may contain vestiges of
a primitive creation myth. But the Big Bang theory
is certainly a scientific theory, not merely a creation
myth, and will be validated or invalidated by
experiment and observation.

57

In making sense of all this, I find it helpful to think
about human psychic evolution as Jung did,
namely that throughout most of history, humans
projected archetypes of the unconcious onto the
external world and thereby populated the universe
with gods and goddesses. The scientific age was
a turning point in the withdrawal of these
projections and thus in the perception of the
universe as it really is—a picture that has evolved
from the time of Copernicus and Newton into the
present and is still evolving, but which is
constructed on a fundamentally different
relationship between humans and external reality
than that of pre-scientific cultures. Jung also noted
that this disillusioning of humans about our world
has created a psychic crisis for modern people, but
he offered a solution to this modern dilemma.
Specifically, Jung suggested that by discovering
the archetypes in the depths of our own
unconscious and by bringing them into relationship
with the conscious ego through the interpretation of
dreams and other creative products of the
unconscious, we can regain wholeness. This
overlaps greatly with psychoanalysis, of course,
but Jung argued that the Oedipus complex is just
one of many archetypal complexes. What he called
individuation, which is predicated on the withdrawal
of archetypal projections, takes the place of
religion, which is predicated on projecting

58

archetypal contents onto external reality.
While this means the end of the gods and
goddesses (c.f. Wagner’s Götterdämmerung
“Twilight of the Gods”), it does not mean the end of
mystical experience. We can still experience our
unity with all things, awe in the face of the cosmos
and natural history, and can even know through
science and philosophy what Hegel called the
Absolute and what previous generations called the
Mind of God.
Brian
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 1

I would say that the scientific community consists
mainly of highly individuated people, but that the
mass public consists mainly of people who
continue to project archetypes onto external reality,
much the way the common people have
throughout history.

59

DeMause is looking to those who received the
most love from their caregivers for those who won't
project. They won't feel they're full of "bad" aspects
they'll feel the need to project onto others.
Would he see the scientific community as full of
humanity's most warmly raised? If they tend to vote
progressive, then -- yes. If not, if they're like all
those thoroughly educated German professors
who lost themselves as much as the average Joe
in the mystical Germanic union -- the Volk -- then
no.
The idea of a scientific community who are immune
to what the mass suffers from, owing to their
superior education and (ostensibly) highly
individuated status, strikes me as maybe itself
projective ... the mass suffers from all the wildness,
the (humiliating) pliability, the emotion, scientists
are immune to. The university community as a kind
of an autistic shell -- robotic reasoners -- all
the emotion, all the humiliating susceptibility, is on
the outside.
It's the mass that can be tugged on the ear and
moved this way or that.
-- Patrick

60

Trevor Pederson

Mar 2

I think Patrick is right to be skeptical of equating
scientists and academics with being more
reasonable. In the idea of the "masses" itself there
is already a nice schizoid phantasy of the individual
being different than the rest of humanity.
The history of philosophy is also the history of the
neurosis of different thinkers. Hobbes' state of
nature says more about Hobbes than it does about
reality, Descartes' mind/body dualism and need for
God to guarantee his knowledge, along with the
solipsism inherent in that and later idealism can all
be related to phantasies.
These people were great and belong in the history
of philosophy because of the little piece of reason
or rationality in their philosophy, but many other
areas of their philosophy were maligned by
phantasy and neurosis.
If these are individuated people (and how could

61

they not be considered so in their achievements?)
then it's a more sobering view of them.

Brian

Mar 2

Patrick, Trevor, and all,
I agree that scientists are plagued by neurosis as
much as everyone else, but this is not identical with
the issue of individuation. Newton was incredibly
neurotic, perhaps more so that the average
working class person. But many thousands of
equally neurotic people have led uncreative lives,
so what can account for Newton’s creative
genius? Extraordinary brain power, probably a
genetic inheritance, was no doubt a necessary
ingredient but that alone cannot explain his
originality. I would argue that most neurotic people
split off their unconscious complexes and project
them onto others and the world as a whole. As a
result, the complexes drive their behavior
unconsciously.

62

By contrast, people like Newton achieve some kind
of conscious relationship to their complexes and
instead of entirely projecting them, wrestle with
them within themselves. The complexes may still
be partially projected and continue to drive their
behavior, which is why they act neurotically in their
personal and professional lives, but within
themselves they transform their psychic garbage
into novel creative products of great value. Jung
found alchemy a metaphor for this transformation
—the creation of gold out of base metals. That is
individuation—the conscious transformation of
psychic dross into a unique creative product, which
in the case of great geniuses leads to far reaching
transformations of culture, politics, or whatever
macrocosm in which the person is active.
One of the most brilliant applications of Freudian
and Jungian analysis to a creative genius is Robert
Donington’s classic book Wagner’s Ring and Its
Symbols. He connects Wagner’s art to his
psychobiography and shows how Wagner
transformed his personal neuroses, which
continued to wreak havoc in his personal and
professional life, into extraordinary artistic
achievement. I suspect there is a similar story to
Newton and other creative geniuses known to be
psychologically disordered. Note also, however,

63

that other creative geniuses, say Spinoza,
appeared to be very psychologically integrated and
balanced people, so we should not assume that
conscious wrestling with neurosis is the only path
to extraordinary creative achievement.
Patrick, I can’t point to a particular research study
on this but I am almost certain that university
professors on average are politically progressive.
That said, the institutional framework within which
they work is part of the larger power structure, as
embodied in universities’ boards of trustees. So
the president, provosts, and administration are
generally not representative of the faculty as a
whole and hiring and tenure decisions also reflect
power considerations, which imparts a
conservative bias to the institution as a whole. A
similar phenomenon occurs in journalism, where
working journalists are liberal but the top power
holders in the big media corporations tend to be
conservative (See Ben Bagdikian, The Media
Monopoly).
Brian
Bora

64

Mar 2

To Everyone:
"By contrast, people like Newton achieve some
kind of conscious relationship to their complexes
and instead of entirely projecting them, wrestle with
them within themselves. The complexes may still
be partially projected and continue to drive their
behavior, which is why they act neurotically in their
personal and professional lives, but within
themselves they transform their psychic garbage
into novel creative products of great value."
This sounds like locus of control, with Newton's
locus operating internally.
I've observed that those who are religious in a
traditional, abiding
sense of the term seem to operate from an external
locus of control.
And those that have a more spiritual, or even
agnostic, interaction
with faith or g/God seem to operate from an
internal locus of control.
For the most part, anyway.

65

What Alice said about future generations needing
"to be able to
imagine God in a new way" seems very much like
a process that would
have to begin with the self, and within the self. An
internal locus
of control is an inner space of unlimited
understanding and potential,
which must be had in order to imagine anything in
a new way. Where
else could the innovation of God take place?
—————

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 3

One of the interesting things that happened over

66

the last year was a realization amongst many on
the left that perpetrators of considerable power,
could be taken down. Even a few years ago,
powerhouses like Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, and
Ghomeshi (in Canada, he was a superstar) just
couldn't be put in the situation, where for crimes of
child abuse and rape, they could actually lose their
power and be sundered to prison. If you were one
of their victims, you could feel that the collective
need to keep them vital would mean some means
would be found to silence your cause -- your
protests would have no chance: even many liberals
wouldn't speak up for you -- what presumption,
you! Your best salve would be to try not to read the
next biography about them, which would surely
gloss over any accusations made against them and
salute them as great men. But this year, you could
feel that somehow this was changing ... that now
empathy for victims was such that more people
registered the harm these men had done and saw
them not as greats under (unfair) assault but more
and more as vile perpetrators. An example is Lena
Dunhams' estimation of not just Allen but his work,
experiencing the child-molester in his films that
previously the left had only kept on the shelf,
proudly, as identity/class-markers.
Something similar, I think, is happening now in
relation to history. The number of times Pinker's

67

book has been referenced, along now with "the
Moral Arc," is astonishing. Pinker, as I've
mentioned before, doesn't say that modern
wo/man is constitutionally different people from
living a thousand years ago, but does argue that
societies have become less and less violent across
the time. "The Moral Arc" comes closer to saying
that people themselves have changed, and much
for the better. This is not done in a climate of
blaming early societies, castigating them, but they
evidently aren't working to nevertheless bulwark
the past against modern judgment, as historians
were once so capable of doing.
People influenced by these works aren't so much
arguing that we have to careful when we judge
people living before us, because they were only
living according to what they knew -- and mightn't
we overselves find ourselves judged by historians
in the future? -- but rather arguing that since the
past as it turns out is full of perpetrating, sexist,
immoral bastards -- even the best, the most liberal,
of its greats, were sexist a-holes or the like, and
that includes the like of its women, people like
Virginia Woolf! -- the last thing we would actually
want is spend time with them. If you want a sample
of this reaction, check out this article at Salon.com:
No "Midnight in Paris, " rather, You would've hated
your heroes.

68

History is becoming, to more and more of the
informed, a bit akin to DeMause's "nightmare we
are just waking up from," but one's association with
it, one's protection and support of it, not as
innocent as this phrasing might imply/allow. If you
choose to enter the past, you're choosing to
associate with a room chock-full of repellent Bill
Cosbys, Ghomeshis, Woody Allens, and Adrian
Petersons. There is no difference in what you're
doing than if you chose, now, knowing what we
know of him, to nevertheless still go see Bill
Cosby's latest comedy performance, arguing
that he's still got it!
I've never myself like the term psychohistory. I've
always wanted to drop the history part of it, and
said as much to DeMause. History is nightmare!
Why the hell are we latching ourselves to it! I
wonder if in the new climate that might be
emerging if more and more young progressive
minds will refuse to abide his decision, and study
his innovative workings on child abuse and society,
on how widespread parental rejection is the most
profound factor in adults choosing to vote in
politicians that curb growth, on the emotional life of
nations, in some venue spared its beloved
"psycho" being latched to the abhorrent
perpetrating sex-fiend -- history.

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-- Patrick
Barney

Mar 3
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Clio’s Psyche
Dear Patrick McEvoy-Halston,
On my planet, we say, "Don't recall history or you
will be doomed to repeat it, and make it worse."
Works, too, for us. We cannot comprehend the
sex-fiend analogy. History has no memory, no urge
for power, and no intentions. It is simply the trash
of time and like a used Kleenex, it lacks all
passion, which it leaves to historians, who lust for
detritus, for shards, for petrified structures. By that
standard, psychohistory is a study of the shed cells
of minds. There is no energy in history, only in the
historians who reclaim it and hypothesize from its

70

decay-riddled corpses.
On my planet all historians do their rituals in
private, and if they uncover hideousness (as they
do) they are honor-bound to disintegrate and
disperse it as one might a lethal virus and to take
and distribute corrective lessons from it. On my
planet, the Holocaust would be long forgotten, as
would the deaths of Hutus and Tutus and innocents
by the millions, as would be the murderousness of
knights, and kings, and presidents, and emperors
and their weapons makers, and their financiers,
and the soldiers they put in motion. On my planet,
the stupidities and viciousness of yesterday are
methodically examined and corrected with each
new day. One of the foremost proponents of
forgetting history and zeroing in on successful
progress toward brilliant pleasure (he hailed from
my planet) was the late Dr. Roger Olaf Egeberg,
the personal physician and confidant of General
Douglas MacArthur during World War Two. He told
me once about how he and his wife dealt with
history. "Every morning we are together we make
up our bed together. If we are together, we never
fail in this. It is a new day, new changes, new risks,
new possibilities."
History cannot rape, mutilate, libel, or kill you, but
historians can and may. It is often a bit humiliating

71

for some historians to remember that they are
humans, too. History is not a sex fiend but it is a
straw man, always has been and always will be.
Yet there may be a way to exploit wrinkles in the
quuantum foam and transport back ten centuries or
so; if you have a yen to do that back to 1357 A.D.,
read Michael Chichton's "Timeline" ~ a perfect nonstop JFK to Buenos Aires book.
Barney
—————-

drwargus

Mar 2

Agreed Burton. All ideas are reconstructed in the
brain (mind) and are by definition "constructs." All
ideas are context and construct dependent. It took

72

me a while to grasp that idea (T. S. Kuhn, The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions) as I chose a
career in science to discover the Truth myself. I
was tired of mythic and magical ideologies that
made no sense, and science was deemed to be
pure. But it is not pure. All scientific ideas have an
arbitrary component to them. However, even many
scientists have difficulty grasping that fact today.
To be sure, just because everything is relative
to everything else, it does not follow that all ideas
are equal. Similarly, just because there is no
absolute moral authority does not mean that all
moral views are equally valid or invalid. Just
because there is no absolute physical law does not
mean that physics has no meaning, no value, no
purpose.
Bill
Intelligence has many facets and cannot be
reduced to one number
dr.bobstern

Mar 2

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"All ideas are reconstructed in the brain (mind) and
are by definition "constructs."
Thank goodness you added: "...it does not follow
that all ideas are equal." Scientific "constructs" are
tested, testable, improvable, overturnable ... and
thoroughly relevant in the 21st century, regardless
of fairytales believed concerning "God's"
requirements for genital modifications, dietary
preferences, son killing (Jesus or Isaac), misogyny
(pretty much universal in all "major" religions, etc.
Religious "constructs" -- utterly arbitrary, having an
intimate connection to an accident of birth (parents,
culture, etc). Not too many kids born to Catholic
parents in the 21st century finding the innate
impulse to worship Zeus or Mohammad.
That being said, Muslim physicists (who intend to
actually build workable nuclear devices -- be they
for war or peace) are working from pretty much the
same modern scientific playbook as non-religious
scientists. And, unlike "sacred texts from
God" which far pre-date germ "theory" and the idea
that the Earth moves around the Sun (just
constructs, I guess), the physics texts are quite

74

changeable as new information is revealed by
those who occupy themselves with more than
arguing fine points of fairytales.
As far as moral relativism is concerned. Thank
goodness. Relativism seems to rear its beautiful
head occasionally, much to the ire of the
Absolutists. It gives room for the evolution of
"morals" and is one of the greatest achievements
of modernity. It wasn't so long ago that the Bible
was rightly invoked as supporting slavery. Now,
we're still battling the right of gay people to love
whom they love...because some believe an
Absolute Fairytale about what "God Hates."
The Pope, as rightly infallible in 2007 as the others
were wrongly fallible before (apparently), got rid of
the horrifying concept of "Limbo" -- where infants
who died before their grieved parents could baptize
them got stuck for eternity.
B

Barney

75

Mar 2

Exquisitely put. Must be the tequila and salt.

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 2

The DeMausian take would be that talking about
these constructs becomes irrelevant when the
majority of scientists belong to the helping
psychoclass -- are children of well-loved,
permissive parents. He says this class has only
come into existence in the last fifty years or so, so
before every framework scientists/cultures
embraced had to be one which matched their
immature psyches — he says, for
example, “Newton had to stop seeing falling
objects longing to return to Mother Earth before he
could posit a force of gravity. Chemists had to give

76

up "alchemical visions of womb-battles between
good and evil" inside their flasks before they could
observe the real causes of chemical change.”
If it interests you, he also says that new ideas
become popularized because they respond to the
psyches, the emotional needs, of a new emerging
psychoclass. That is, if Newton had come up
instead with an Einsteinian universe, no amount of
proof, no degree of accumulation of errors in the
previous accepted understanding of the universe,
would of had scientists embrace it. Newton aired
what a new generation was ready for, responded to
a (newly emergent) mode of childrearing, just like
Darwin did.
Since he sees history as being about gradually
improving childrearing, each subsequent
framework would be more reality-based, less about
fiddling with or avoiding childhood “issues.” At
some point, the whole discussion of constructs,
limitations, seems inappropriate. Modesty becomes
only a form of self-flagellation, which pleases only
those possessed of alters ready to chastise
fulfillment.
Brian

77

Mar 2

Burton, Bill, and all,
If the laws of nature are merely arbitrary constructs
of the human mind, then everything you are saying
holds. I don’t find this picture philosophically
satisfactory, though I can’t defend my view with
much rigor because I am not trained in philosophy.
Suffice it to say that the human body, brain, and
mind evolved as they did because the laws of
nature are what they are. As the most complex
physical system we have ever discovered, the
human brain and mind is not only a part of nature,
but one of the only parts that embodies all the laws
of nature that operate at the highest levels of
complexity and organization. That includes not
only the laws of biology but of what we now call
cognitive science. So it is entirely plausible that
humans contain within ourselves all the laws of
nature, and that the discovery of the laws of nature
is a form of self-knowledge. Teilhard de Chardin
once said, “Humanity is the universe becoming
conscious of itself.” In other words, our knowledge
of nature is really self-knowledge, and the idea that
we are discovering “external reality” is not entirely

78

correct. We cannot directly observe all parts of the
universe, but we can observe enough of it to be
able to understand the whole thing, assuming only
that the laws of nature are the same everywhere.
I don’t know of any law of physics, once
discovered, that has been proven wrong. What
advances in science show is that the domain of
applicability of the law was not adequately
understood. Relativity and quantum mechanics did
not invalidate Newton’s laws of motion, they only
showed that they are less universal than Newton
thought and do not hold at very small and very
large timescales. So relativity and quantum
mechanics provided more general and universally
applicable pictures of physical reality, and they in
turn, will eventually be superseded by still more
adequate pictures. Notice that we don’t replace
one arbitrary picture with another, but build on
reliable but limited theoretical and empirical
knowledge and subsume it to increasingly
adequate theoretical frameworks. This could not
occur unless the human mind were homing in on
objectively valid knowledge of reality.
All of this is consistent with Kuhn’s theory of
scientific revolutions, which is in the first instance a
sociology of science not an epistemology, much
less a metaphysic. It is also consistent with

79

Trevor’s psychological ideas about how we
construct our picture of reality, but as with Kuhn,
this does not address (and is apparently not
intended to) the deeper epistemological and
metaphysical questions. I agree with Burton that
there is a danger of hubris in science, but I would
say that there an equal and opposite danger of
solipsism, so perhaps we are dealing here with a
Scylla and Charybdis. I think the need for humility
is greatest where science is the least mature,
which certainly applies to psychoanalysis and
psychohistory. In this regard, I have been
consistently critical of knowledge claims by
psychohistorians that are not supported by
evidence and adequate theory, which unfortunately
includes a great deal of the work in these fields
beginning with Freud and up to and including
deMause.
Brian

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 2

80

Re: I think the need for humility is greatest where
science is the least mature, which certainly applies
to psychoanalysis and psychohistory. In this
regard, I have been consistently critical of
knowledge claims by psychohistorians that are not
supported by evidence and adequate theory, which
unfortunately includes a great deal of the work in
these fields beginning with Freud and up to and
including deMause.
Brian, for someone who talks about the importance
of modesty, why is it that so much of what you write
has the feeling of final law? You've been patient,
you've listened ... but now's when you have to step
in so that things don't lapse into total nonsense. I
end up feeling paved over.
If your way prevails, psychohistory has perhaps
more of a chance in academia -- perhaps because
it's not actually saying much beyond what others
have already accepted -- but it puts the brake on
rather than develops its most exciting and
innovative elements. Are you a progressive
professor, or part of the conservative institution -the university -- that inhibits?
It might be noted that while you're putting the
brakes on DeMausian history, by fitting it, to its

81

disadvantage, within a narrative of reckless youth
vs. measured maturity, it would seem that our
society may once again be getting ready to
advance a full-on appreciation of his sort of history:
you might be becoming out of step. Pinker's widely
referenced book (Better Angels of our Nature) has
been followed by the bestseller "The Moral Arc,"
which not only argues that humans have become
more empathic and more moral through time, but
argues out of astonishing confidence, as if it knows
it's what most of us want again to switch to
accepting again.
These books are but a blink away from DeMause,
and so perhaps we'll see what happens when
those who want to argue that DeMause argues out
of a lack of proof are met by a majority that
suddenly are prepared to accept his conclusions,
rather than cheer on even the most pathetic of
disproofs so to humiliate the asshole! Hereto,
anyone who argued that DeMause hadn't the
proof, knew they were counting themselves
amongst majority opinion -- power, was with them.
The idea of the universal man, the historian's
preference for seeing all eras as of equal value,
are all equally worth studying, may be lapsing.
I'd certainly like to see what it would be like to be
able to talk DeMausian theory outside of a climate

82

where people become lenient -- in a way, someone
you're behooven to -- simply by allowing you to air
your opinions in no less an abashed fashion than
they casually do theirs.
-- Patrick
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 2

unabashed, not abashed.
Barney

Mar 2
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83

Dear Patrick McEvoy-Halston,
"I'd certainly like to see what it would be like to be
able to talk DeMausian theory outside of a climate
where people become lenient -- in a way, someone
you're behooven to -- simply by allowing you to air
your opinions in no less an abashed fashion than
they casually do theirs."
Bashed, abashed, or unabashed, can you help me
understand what the above paragraph means?
Your unbehooven friend,
Barney
dr.bobstern

Mar 2

Brian: I think "Science" is among the least
hubristic of all human endeavors.
All one needs to do is attend a scientific meeting

84

and see all the presenters with their caveats and
statements ("suggests need for further study",
etc). Contrast that to religious meetings where
hubristic "authorities" pound the pulpit while
claiming absolute knowledge of what "God wants"
or "demands".
Scientists are acutely aware that their knowledge is
provisional in essence, falsifiable by reality and ripe
for supersession. In contrast, the religious indulge
in instinctual "certainties" carved in stone via
cultural accident.
Scientists have achieved much by running counter
to form. Our evolutionary nature (still present
even after we left the savannah where getting
spooked by the rustling of grass had some survival
value) is not instinctually designed to buck instinct
and conclude that lighter objects indeed fall as fast
as heavier ones -- despite what "common sense"
demands.
Scientists suspend credulity in such "common
sense" and "deep experience" -- a modern
achievement granted that we are probably
genetically identical to those humans who were
roaming the plains 10,000 years ago..
Scientists deal in a more humble enterprise

85

involving "probability" -- admittedly, as in the cases
of a heliocentric solar system and the evolution of
life, a high degree of probability. Regardless of
which religious authority desires to put the thumb
screws on them to recant such "blasphemy."
I find myself in profound alignment with Brian's
final statement:
" In this regard, I have been consistently critical of
knowledge claims by psychohistorians that are not
supported by evidence and adequate theory, which
unfortunately includes a great deal of the work in
these fields beginning with Freud and up to and
including deMause.”
Brian

Mar 3

Bill, Burton, Bora, Patrick, and all,
Whew, so much to talk about! Bill, yes “everything
is a process.” But in saying this, you are singing

86

Darwin’s and Einstein’s songs. Darwin’s theory
threw out the notion that species are fixed and
immutable and showed how all of life is part of a
single evolutionary process. Einstein showed how
time is inseparable from space, and how matter
can be transformed into energy, and thus showed
how what were thought to be the most fundamental
categories of physics are not absolute. The
frontiers of science are all about process. So to
say that everything is process is not a commentary
on the limitations of science.
Burton, physics today is in disarray because no
one has yet succeeded in bringing relativity and
quantum mechanics into a unified theory that is
testable. The superstring theorists have a unified
theory, but it is not testable. So I take a great deal
of what is being done in mainstream physics today,
including Big Bang cosmology, with a grain of salt.
But one thing is certain. Relativity and quantum
mechanics are solid and enduring theories that
have proven themselves repeatedly by observation
and experiment. Entire realms of technology,
including much of chemical and electrical
engineering, are based on quantum mechanics. It
works. This would not be the case if it did not
embody some fundamental truths about objective
reality. How relativity and quantum mechanics will
eventually be reconciled is the great unsolved

87

problem of physics today, but there is no doubt that
the next big paradigm will subsume what is valid in
both of these theories.
Bora, what you say about locus of control makes
sense but with one proviso. If the ego remains the
locus of control, the unconscious—which is the
source of our creativity—gets written out of the
equation. According to Jung, people can only
realize their full creative potential if the ego
relinquishes control to a new center of the
personality that encompasses both the conscious
ego and the person’s unconscious. Jung called
this new center, the Self.
Patrick, from where you sit, I may appear to be a
custodian of academic rigor who is putting the
kibosh on the full bodied exercise of the
psychohistorical imagination. At the same time,
however, professional academics see me as
someone who is excessively speculative and not a
“real” academic because my work does not fit into
any of the established academic disciplines. By
way of background, I did a Ph.D. in political
science and published an article length version of
my doctoral research on the psychology of
militarism in a peer reviewed journal. But my
research was too theoretical for the empiricists and
too statistical for the theorists and had one foot in

88

American politics and one foot in international
relations and so did not seem to belong in either
subdiscipline. Whatever. In a tight academic job
market I was going nowhere in higher education
and so I earned my living as a high school teacher,
and currently as a math tutor and statistical
consultant, while I continue to pursue academic
interests that seem important to me and important
for the future of the world. I am well aware of the
limitations of organized academia, but I am equally
aware of how easy it is for people who are not
academically trained to lay claim to scientific
authority that they have not earned.
I do not ask that every psychohistorian do empirical
work. There is a role for speculative theorists,
provided that they are serious about producing
theories that will eventually be tested using
statistical or other empirical research. I have seen
plenty of speculation in some quarters of the
psychohistory community but very little real interest
in designing research that can test these theories,
or even of collaborating with people who do this
kind of research. This is not the attitude of
science.
Robert, yes I agree that it is hard for professional
scientists to be anything but humble. The problem,
of course, is when people who are NOT

89

professional scientists or scholars but who aspire
to scientific status make inflated claims about how
much they know.
Brian
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 3

Sure, Barney!
I mean that it'd be nice to be able to talk about
DeMause's theories in a climate that is warm to it.
If you simply discuss it amongst those who see
them as (maybe) useful but extreme and
unsupported, amongst those who count
themselves amongst those who aren't avant-garde
vulnerable but within the mainstream, are
conservative, humble, modest and throughly
worthy of a pat, it's difficult to argue with the kind of
confidence that allows you to be fair to yourself and
to be inspiring to others. That's what I want for
myself, and others.

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I do sometimes misspell words but like them too
much to change. Behooven may not actually be a
word, but don't you like the "hoof" in it!
-- Patrick
Barney

Mar 3
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Clio’s Psyche
Dear Patrick,
You are a natural writer and to invent words is what
really interesting and sometimes even touching
writing is all about. Glad to see you are not a slave
to fashion or tradition, but are respectful of both.
However, it is well to remember that Behoof is not
Aloof like most of the Oof family, nor is Poof or
Goof, especially when they are high like Roof and
his trusty chowhound Woof.

91

Barney
Ken Fuchsman

Mar 3
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Alice hopes that our grandchildren can forge a new
image of God. I am not sure this is what humanity
needs now or will need in the future. We have
enough ethical dilemmas to keep us occupied.
The notion that we should do unto others what we
want them to do to us is in some form a human
universal. Yet much of humanity's success as a
species is built on killing other animals and those
within our own species. Those cultures which have
been most advanced culturally and intellectually
have also been militarily exploitative. What has
advanced us as a species and what are our
ethics conflict. Our continued history of brutality
and exploitation, and the necessity to kill or destroy
to live creates dilemmas that few if any religions

92

have been able to successfully confront. I am not
sure that any future image of a supreme being will
be any better than those in the present or past at
confronting these dilemmas.
I agree with much of what Brian says about
psychohistory. But I do have a few issues to raise.
Brian does not expect every psychohistorian to do
empirical work and he worries that the amount of
psychohistorical speculation is not matched by
research that can test these theories, as that is not
the attitude of science.
If a psychohistorical work has a historical
component then it would need to be empirical, if we
take empirical to mean based on observation or
experience. Historians, of course, base their work
on legitimate documents, and thus their work
needs to be empirical. Is there some other
meaning of empirical that Brian has in mind?
I do agree it is central to any line of inquiry,
including psychohistory, to seek to test theories in
a variety of ways. I am not sure that one needs to
have the attitude of science to do so.
History though it has elements that can be
considered scientific is not classified as a science
or social science. In most university general
education requirements, the history courses are

93

listed under the humanities. Actually, the
Congressional act that established the endowment
of the humanities includes history as a humanity.
Historians seek to be accurate and truthful without
being scientific per se. There are also questions
as to the scientific status of both much academic
psychology and the various forms of
psychoanalytic and other clinical based
psychologies. It is not clear that we ought to
consider psychohistory as falling within the domain
of science. That psychohistory should involve
critical thinking, rigorous evaluation of claims, and
meet high scholarly standards is essential, that
much of what passes as psychohistory has not met
these standards is one reason that psychohistory
needs to upgrade itself.
drwargus

Mar 3

Brian ,
You claimed that there are fundamental truths
about objective reality. My point is that there is no

94

objective reality. Any understanding of science
requires a perspective that is context and construct
dependent. My point is that science itself is a
process, constantly changing and evolving.
Science is still worth pursuing, but there is no
absolute truth because there is no one perspective
that is true.
Bill
Brian

Mar 3
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Clio’s Psyche
Bill, to say that there is no objective reality sounds
solipsistic to me. Please clarify what you mean.
Isn’t the physical world an objective reality? If
someone finds herself working in a minimum-wage
job, isn’t that an objective reality? If someone is
dying of cancer, isn’t that an objective reality?
What are you talking about?

95

Ken, I have never understood why you are so
intent on establishing disciplinary boundaries.
Psychohistory is nothing if not an interdisciplinary,
multi-disciplinary, and trans-disciplinary field. Upon
close examination, this is true of most if not all
academic fields of knowledge. Does art history
belong in history or in art? Does economic history
belong in history or in economics? I find these
questions pointless, and I find it equally pointless
whether there is or should be a boundary between
recent history and current events, or between
theory and empirical research. Empirical research
is necessarily informed by theory, otherwise how
do we know what evidence is worth collecting or
studying? Theory that is not consistent with the
available evidence cannot be correct and if it is
found inconsistent with new evidence it must be
modified or discarded. (In the case of history, new
evidence may mean the discovery of evidence that
was not previously known to the academic
community). This generally applies to history and
the social sciences, though not to a priori
disciplines like mathematics and analytic
philosophy, or to the humanities, which are not
empirical disciplines in the same sense.
So if we dispense with this classification project,
how do we insure rigor? In The Sociological

96

Imagination, C. Wright Mills answered this question
by saying that we need to specialize according to
research topics, not according to academic
disciplines. If someone wants to understand what
caused World War II, they will probably need
conceptual tools and methods drawn from both
history and the social sciences. In a doctoral
dissertation on some aspect of this topic, it may be
appropriate and indeed advisable to have an
economist or a sociologist or a political scientist on
the committee in addition to historians, depending
on the particular angle the student has taken. In
the end, there is no alternative but to think about
the specific research topic before us and to ask
whether the researcher has chosen appropriate
tools and methods and applied them competently.
No one person is likely to be able to evaluate the
work adequately or help the researcher develop
their ideas, which therefore requires collaboration
across disciplinary boundaries. Am I missing
something?
Brian
drwargus

Mar 3

97

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Similar to the Heisenberg principle, you cannot
examine something without altering it. There is a
"reality" out there, but you can never see it with
purely objective eyes. There will always be the
subjective. Your subjective is composed of your
worldviews and sense of meaning (ego). When you
psychoanalyze someone, you try to bring one
person's subjective out into the open and examine
it as object, correct? So when someone says "the
reality is," they are really speaking about the reality
(object) that their subjective visualizes. They
mistake their subjective Interpretation and
reconstruction of reality as a perfect reproduction
of reality.
Bill

Trevor Pederson

98

Mar 3
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Bill
The world in many respects very, very regular and
people aren't having disagreements all the time
about whether 2+2=4, whether the stop sign at the
corner of a road means you should stop driving
your car, or about whether a man is a tall man or
not. We play these language games fairly
consistently and regularly with a lot of agreement.
When it comes to whether we should implement
liberal or conservative economic policies, talk
about what someone's motivations for a certain
behavior were, or have opinions about how others
might regard us then there most certainly is a lot of
illusion out there.
I don't think the illusions in the second group mean
we must disregard the facts and laws of the first
group as "subjective".

99

I also don't think that truth in the second group is
impossible, even though the consensus there won't
be as uniform as in the first group. There are wise
people who have better judgment of the motivation
of others and people who have virtually no sense
of what motivates people other than hunger and
sex. I think that the wisest people still have their
blind-spots but they can also be fairly regular in
guessing people's feelings or motivations which
others can agree avow.
Now, what you are saying totally applies to anyone
who wants to say that his religion is the true
religion, but otherwise it doesn't fit our practical
world in any way.
Trevor
Alice Maher

Mar 3

Much thanks to everyone for your very stimulating
responses to my post. Unfortunately my workdays
are 15 hours long so I haven't had time to read and

100

digest your responses, but I will attempt to do that
as soon as I get a chance to breathe.
One quick response to Ken. You say, "Alice hopes
that our grandchildren can forge a new image of
God. I am not sure this is what humanity needs
now or will need in the future. We have enough
ethical dilemmas to keep us occupied."
Ken, I think our children and grandchildren will give
up on those ethical dilemmas unless they have a
more distant, overarching vision to work toward.
Climate change, resolving war, and reimagining
God, should all be on their radar. Without those
possibilities, they will (collectively, not individually)
be left with unresolvable and neverending conflict
and regression to depression, narcissism,
psychosis and the eventual suicide of our species.
I often use analogies related to the body. If you're
a right eye, you're only programmed to see the
landscape on the right. Same thing if you're a left
eye. If both eyes persist in arguing that their
landscape is the one true reality, the "body politic"
will continue to trip over itself and go nowhere fast.
But if the right eye becomes aware and respectful
of the different vision seen by the left eye, and they
tolerate attempts to integrate those other

101

perspectives, and they focus together on a distant,
shared horizon, the individual or the collective is
able to move forward with clarity, perspective, and
depth perception. Examples of those "eyes" are
religion and atheism, conservative and liberal,
Jewish and antisemitic, etc.
Our kids need to be presented that shared, distant
horizon as a focal point, and they to be offered our
trust that they have it in them to resolve those
conflicts and paradoxes.
Alice
Brian

Mar 3
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Bill, Trevor and all,
I agree with Trevor on the “objective reality” issue,

102

and have a few more things to add. As with so
much else, I see a number of levels to this issue.
On the level of the individual, yes, of course every
person has a unique cognitive map of the world
that reflects his or her unique psychobiography,
which, in turn, reflects the specific historical
circumstances into which they were born and live
their life, including their socioeconomic
circumstances and inherited culture. In this sense,
every person’s reality is indeed subjective.
At the same time, however, humans are not just
individuals but also social beings, and we need to
examine “reality” also on the social level. Here we
encounter what Peter Berger called “the social
construction of reality,” namely the way that a
community of people acting on the basis of shared
cognitive maps that are common to their culture
create a “world” that no individual, acting alone,
can alter. Related to this are the institutional
realities that constrain people’s lives, such as the
organization of power in their workplaces. These
realities are objective in the sense that the
individual cannot wish them away and must
somehow accommodate to them, even if they pit
themselves against these realities and act to
subvert or overcome them in some way. However,
reality at this level is also subjective in the sense
that the society and culture that constructs it is one

103

of many possible societies and cultures and to that
extent the reality constructed is arbitrary.
At a third level, we encounter the physical planet
that all societies and cultures on Earth inhabit in
common. In representing this physical
environment, the social construction of reality still
operates—some cultures conceptualize the Earth
as the back of a turtle and others as a planet
orbiting a star in the Milky Way Galaxy, for
example, as Trevor noted. But at this level, unlike
the first two, there are fully objective criteria for
what is real. Measurement and experiment are the
ultimate arbiters of what is real. Yes, chaos,
uncertainty, and random variation are an integral
part of this reality. But this only means that there
are limits to measurement, not that nothing can be
measured. Reality is not entirely deterministic, but
it is deterministic enough that we can organize our
lives around the physical niches in which we find
ourselves and can predict important things in our
everyday lives with a high degree of confidence, as
Trevor pointed out. We can even predict, with the
aid of science, things like global warming. I think it
is extremely important that we recognize that this
physical reality is not a mere projection of human
constructs but is rather an objective set of
properties, structures, processes, etc. that exist
independently of these constructs.

104

To be sure, physical reality is only knowable
imperfectly because science is an imperfect
institution, corrupted by power and money,
distorted by unexamined political and cultural
biases, vitiated by mediocrity, incompetence and
even fraud. But the highly public nature of science
provides ample opportunity for the correction of
many of these imperfections, and in any case, it is
the most reliable path to knowledge available to us.
It behooves us to conform our human constructs to
the common physical reality as science has come
to know it. Otherwise, in accordance with the
inexorable laws of nature that we choose to ignore,
we may find ourselves in deep doo-doo, as George
Bush Sr. so colorfully put it.
Brian
Ken Fuchsman

Mar 3
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images in Clio’s Psyche
Brian, you say, "Psychohistory is nothing if not an
interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and transdisciplinary field.". Technically, psychohistory is an
interdisicpline, a field where two other fields are
interconnected, such as social psychology and
biochemistry. Bill Newell, the long time Exexutive
Director of the Association for Interdisciplinary
Studies, maintains that interdisciplines are not
necessarily interdisciplinary. Within the field of
interdisciplinary studies, being interdisciplinary and
being multi-disciplinary are seen as being
incompatible. There are multiple approaches that
call themselves trans-disciplinary, and some of
these are compatible with being interdisciplinary
and some are not. The term trans-disciplinary was
coined by Jean Piaget in Paris in 1970 and was
designed to be distinct from being interdisciplinary.
Piaget's use of trans-disciplinary could not be
correctly applied to psychohistory, You are using
these terms much more loosely than is done in the
scholarship of interdisciplinary studies.
I am not intent on establishing disciplinary
boundaries. You had said that psychohistorical
work need not always be empirical. I replied by
saying that as much as psychohistory includes
history it must be empirical. You seem to ignore

106

that part of my response. I thought you were
describing psychohistory in a way that ignored that
it needed to be empirical.
Bill you say that all scholarship is based in some
way on interpretation. Let's say, this is accurate.
Is there any thing distinguishing contemporary
physics from astrology? What distinguishes
Darwinian evolution from what is called creation
science? Or are these things epistemologically on
the same level?
—————

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 4

The topic of the youthfulness of psychohistory has
come up lately, and has been argued as a reason
for keeping things humble and cautious. I thought
I'd present how horrifying this suggestion would
come to a DeMausian psychohistorian.

107

DeMause argued right from "Foundations" that
what the psychohistorian requires above all else is
a willingness to take emotional risks ... what you're
studying, could well blow back on you. When
you're studying Hitler, he argues, you're
recognizing that some part of him rests also in you.
I thought this particular example not quite
appropriate for the point he was trying to make.
Plenty of people would be willing to accept that evil
rests within themselves, after all, and would use
this "fact" to argue for a suspicion of progressive,
utopian visions of mankind ... use it in favor of
being conservative generally. (I'll add, since the
rest of his work works against the importance of
psychobiography -- "leaders" only follow the
inclinations of the populace; if they stray from this,
they're ignored -- this too wasn't helpful.) What he
was really trying to say is that what you need to
be a psychohistorian is the ability to handle the full
emotional tumult that can hit you when you realize
that the societies you are studying are not largely
motivated by rational reasons, aren't homo
economicus, but by experiences out of childhood
that you probably at some level have shared but,
just like them, want kept protected from being
reminded of.
He was arguing for a psychohistorian base, in my

108

judgment, of our most emotionally evolved, for
young minds out of our most progressive families.
It is hard to imagine appealing to them by
advertising the discipline as one that has to play it
conservative for it being "immature," young. They'll
be our most brazen, our most inclined to pursue
the new, our most inclined to inspect elders
cautioning them of doing as much, not out of
wisdom, but because too much growth unsettles
them ... makes them feel disrespectful, full of
themselves, spoiled. Some elder in them, that
senses in their maybe beginning
to embrace exhilarating forward movement brought
forward from the young, an abandonment of them,
disapproves.
I say we go whole-hog, and find ourselves not
worthy of total ridicule, only by the most promising
of people alive today.
-- Patrick
—————
drwargus

109

Mar 4
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Trevor,
I think that we agree far more than disagree. My
focus is on the danger of absolute truth. Most great
scientific breakthroughs were initially dismissed.
They were dismissed because the previous truths
were not able to hold the new information and
constructs. I have personally witnessed great new
ideas be suppressed by the scientific
establishment as the new ideas were threatening
to the establishment. Whether the discussion is
about the resistance to Galileo or the infectionous
cause of gastric ulcer disease, the resistance is
caused by a fundamentalist attitude that the current
paradigm CAN'T be wrong. It can't be wrong
because it's true. If we can accept that there never
is absolute truth, only better constructs, we could
avoid some of these problems.
You want me to focus on the agreements that can
be found between different subjectivities. Exactly.

110

What are the constructs that we psychohistorians
can collectively agree upon? What is our
foundational belief system from which all of our
other theories derive? Is Lloyd's brilliant work about
the levels of child-rearing foundational, or is it part
of a more broad theory?
I am not familiar with neo-Kantianism. I consider
myself Integral, which to my understanding is more
evolved than Kant. Integral seeks to integrate the
best of all philosophers. The idea is that no one
can be wrong all the time! Everyone has something
to contribute.
Bill
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 4

Bill, Lloyd's theories weren't accepted because
they require one to be open to the damage within
one's own childhood, how mommy and daddy
abused you. All the childhood hurts and
humiliations stop -- having no influence on you

111

whatsoever!; but instead are brought up again to
be re-experienced, and to devastate anyone who's
found within their discipline the scholarly collusion
to keep that all closeted away.
Theories can get dismissed, not just because they
fall outside of current constructs, but because they
don't satisfy the emotional/psychic needs that are
being met by the current frameworks. What is
required is not Kuhn's eventual massing of errors,
but a new generation that is emotionally ready for
new ways to understand the world. You can get this
out of DeMause ... and it's so different, and so
exciting!
-- Patrick
Brian

Mar 4

Again, I agree with Trevor and only want to
supplement what he has already said. First, I
agree with Bill that dogmatism is a barrier to
learning; who could disagree with this proposition?

112

My disagreement is with the notion that science
works the same way as other domains of
knowledge. It does not, because science is the
only domain of knowledge that is systematically
anti-dogmatic. If someone says that a scientific
law cannot be wrong, they are not thinking
scientifically. No scientist says that a law of nature
cannot be wrong. If an experiment shows that the
predictions of the law of gravitation do not match
what is observed, that would be big news in the
scientific community and would immediately
become the subject of excited inquiry. Can the
experiment be replicated, or was it a fluke. If it is
replicated over and over, what is going on? Why
does the theory not match reality? The entire
scientific community would go back to the drawing
board. No one expects this to happen with
Einstein’s law of gravitation, but if it did happen,
that is the predictable result.
This does not mean that every member of the
scientific community would immediately discard the
theory of gravitation. For a time the new finding
might be regarded as an anomaly, and might
remain on the periphery of scientific knowledge.
This can be described as a kind of dogmatism, as
Bill correctly says. But over time, science learns
from anomalies, while religious dogmatists just
suppress them or try to explain them away without

113

rethinking their fundamental theories. Younger
scientists take note of anomalies and in their eyes
they are blow to the authority of the reigning
theory. When someone comes up with a more
general theory that accounts for the anomaly along
with all the other observations that the original
theory accounted for, the old theory will be
superseded by the new. This is exactly how
Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s.
What I am saying here is all based on Kuhn, and
his theory of scientific revolutions is specific to
mature sciences, say physics. We use the term
“paradigm” and “paradigm shift” loosely, but for
Kuhn this only describes how mature science
works, which at this point is limited to the natural
sciences.
Let’s take the map analogy one step further. Yes,
Bill, the map is not the territory. But scientific laws
are not maps. Rather, we might think of them as
machines for making maps, and science is the
enterprise of making the machines. We are
constantly exploring the world. If we have a
machine that generates maps for every
conceivable terrain and every time we use the map
it matches the terrain, and we can make the map
incredibly detailed and it matches the terrain with
great precision, then we are justified in calling this
reliable knowledge. There is no dogmatism here.

114

First, the machine by its performance has earned
the confidence we have placed in it. Second, there
is a small but finite chance that the machine will not
perform as expected in the future and will have to
be rebuilt. This is the opposite of dogmatism.
Further, no one will try to rebuild the machine from
scratch. It worked so well that the question will be
how to improve it. Again, this is how Einstein’s
theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s.
Brian
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 4

RE: When someone comes up with a more general
theory that accounts for the anomaly along with all
the other observations that the original theory
accounted for, the old theory will be superseded by
the new.
Brian's way of seeing scientists make them seem
so sensible. Myself, I have very little faith that if a
general theory emerged which accounted for the

115

anomaly, along with all the other observations, but
to embrace it one would have to, say, accept that
the influence of our mothers -- how well loved, or
how much abandoned and despised we were -- is
mostly responsible for how we shape our world,
that the old theory would simply find itself replaced
with the new.
It is however easy to see a new generation, raised
in a bit more loving a fashion, being open to new
frameworks that a preponderance of holes and
errors and mishaps in previous frameworks
couldn't have shaken a previous generation toward
embracing. The sun must be the center of the
universe, just like mommy was! How do I work
through that past if I can't fiddle with it through the
stars! How do I find protection from it, if I can't put
it out onto the outside world in some way I
recognize but feel control over?
I truly believe that the idea that there is insufficient
evidence to support DeMause's understanding of
the past, is thoroughly false. I truly believe a
generation is emerging that would find itself in the
same historical quarters frequented by the legions
of historians before them, and see pathology
everywhere, bloody-well everywhere -- and know
these people hadn't received the care and love
they received ... how could you people for so long

116

not see it!!!! The horror!
They'd look at the preponderance, then back at the
instructor who was still cautioning and sorting
through, and know there's only so much they'd
have to learn from the old fellow ... For him, this
terror would always be his salve, his teddy bear. So
be it ... but time for the rest to move on.
The fact that the chief obstacle to seeing things as
they really are has more to do with one's emotional
health than it does quantity of evidence, will be
probably be demonstrated first out of anthropology
-- where it's still all available to see in our own
temporal period. All those anthropologists
who've somehow gotten away with seeing these
infanticidal, war-crazed societies as benign, as kind
of making sense, are going to be met by a liberal
generation that no longer needs to romance them
to still hold a thoroughly respectful and
supportive attitude towards them.
And they'll know that their predecessors, that
previous generation of liberals, as emotionally
evolved as they were by historical standards, could
still have babies put adrift, even eaten, before their
eyes, and even then not see in the pain evidence
that could shake them out of ultimately seeing
"necessity" involved. No reason, that is, to want to

117

stop the whole thing immediately, by bringing upon
them a legion of child-care workers, as they would
readily any infestation of child-sacrifice cultists
spotted within their own land.
DeMause talks a lot about the psychological
requirements required to do psychohistory. When
he delineates examples, it's clear he's looking for
those who aren't embarrassed or shamed to
recognize the influence their childhoods have
had upon them. It's clear he's hoping for those who
can write things which others would
find ... embarrassing, unprofessional -- counter to
the decorum we assume for scientists. I think this
is helpful to keep in mind. This construct --"the
scientist" -- isn't exactly going to be mistaken for
the inward-looking hippie. S/he's still got the white
coat; "the professional," is still about rectitude ...
we're still limited in what we can find by our need
for most prominent fear-fighters/abaters to seem so
chastised out of "childish" inclinations, and reach.
-- Patrick
dr.bobstern

118

Mar 4

For a good explanation of the misuses of
"Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle":
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/no
thing-to-see-here-demoting-the-uncertaintyprinciple
I don't think there is much evidence that the future
prospects for humanity will be brightened by some
new concept of "God", as it isn't clear how any kind
of magical thinking will lead to habitually rational,
easily correctable, universally acceptable
outcomes.
As far as the complaint that there is no "absolute
truth" -- this is no weakness in science. Science
deals in odds, likelihoods, percentages. The
usefulness (the NECESSITY) of maps is not
diminished by pointing out that the map isn't the
place. Such claims are the realm of the fanciful
religious where, for example, supposedly rational
folks believe that the cracker IS the body of Christ.
If someone claimed that a waffle was the body of
Eleanor Roosevelt -- and demanded that that was
taught in public school -- would we hear the
following?====

119

"But when an evolutionist gets up in front of an
education panel and states that "I will not have our
children being taught religious nonsense. I want
them to have the truth," the evolutionist is just as
misguided as the creationist in thinking that they
own the truth. There is no truth."
Nope. If we are to teach science, then teach
science...arrived at by the processes of science. If
we are to teach -- well, the theology of creationism,
"Christian Science" or that waffles can be Eleanor
Roosevelt -- then that has to be a different branch
of "learning" hopefully unfunded by taxpayers.
The demand that a whole panoply of irrational
beliefs (called religions -- privileged and tax
exempt) deserve a special status of being off limits
to ontological/epistemological scrutiny (after all,
there is no "absolute truth" -- so anything goes?),
and respectful deference is something that needs
a serious look. Especially when the religious
demand to hijack taxpayer funded public
education of children.
Bob

120

dr.bobstern

Mar 4

"I truly believe that the idea that there is
insufficient evidence to support DeMause's
understanding of the past, is thoroughly false."
Co you have the evidence (controlled studies) that
support the causalities such a theory proposes?
"When he delineates examples, it's clear he's
looking for those who aren't embarrassed or
shamed to recognize the influence their
childhoods have had upon them."
Isn't this backwards? The legitimacy of any inquiry
is undermined by pre-screening for a population
which shares the 'belief" (otherwise termed: the
hypothesis yet to be confirmed). Is a compelling
example from someone unashamed to report: "I'm
told that my toilet training was authoritarian, so of
course I tortured small woodland creatures as a kid
and became Pol Pot as an adult." ?

121

"It is however easy to see a new generation,
raised in a bit more loving a fashion"
Is a "more loving fashion" an objective term that
has some cross-culturally testable precision?
B

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 4

Co you have the evidence (controlled studies)
that support the causalities such a theory
proposes?
Causalities? I'm not sure I understand. I'm one who
knew DeMause was right simply because it
matched my own conclusions from reading history.
Sane people don't fight wars, only disturbed people
do so, and yet this never got commented on. I
knew anthropology was bunk (sorry for the
overstatement -- I've been influenced by many
gloriously literate anthropologists) when I finally

122

saw some of those initiation rituals I had read so
much about. I was watching films of children being
tortured, and the narrator, as well as the professor
teaching the course, couldn't see the obvious
-- these people had no other intention in mind but
to brutalize. I knew then this was the problem -science can't bring you closer to human truths if
you're emotionally invested in being obvious to the
effects of childhood abuse, your own suffered,
childhood abuse.
Have you read all of DeMause? There's a million
notes and links to others' studies, if for you that's
what's required. (I don't think it hurts, but I
personally don't need them. I'll read any old 19thcentury text, and feel the entirety of the time within
it, just as you could if you took up 1960s Roth or
Updike: brilliant, but still sexist and patriarchal.)
The legitimacy of any inquiry is undermined by
pre-screening for a population which shares
the 'belief"
No sound inquiry is limited by having it lead by
emotionally healthy people. Every inquiry is closer
to being doomed when it is lead by a sample that
strays from this standard. I realize I'm not quite
getting at your challenge, but I haven't quite
penetrated it yet. My apologies. I promise to think

123

about it more.
Is a "more loving fashion" an objective term
that has some cross-culturally testable
precision?
Children who were talked to, not hit, children who
were respected for their own choices, encouraged
to choose their own fates and to believe in their
ability to reshape the world -- not daunted by being
called "spoiled" -- children who were tended to by
both parents (or the plurality that Molly prefers),
with abundant time put in by both partners.
We don't honestly need to test this to know it's
better, do we? ... Wouldn't you indeed doubt the full
sanity of those who felt the need -- are you alive to
the world, or aren't you???
-- Patrick
Brian

Mar 4

124

Patrick, Robert, and all,
Lloyd DeMause has claimed that psychohistory is a
science and yet has never pursued the methods of
science. The cherry picking of evidence that fits
one’s theory while disregarding evidence that
contradicts it is a pitfall that can only be avoided by
methods that systematically control for bias.
Random sampling is one such method. Content
analysis of media images or information is
another. To my knowledge, only one controlled
study has ever been done on any of Lloyd’s
theories and this research did not come from
DeMause or his followers; more on that below.
This raises an important question: if deMause’s
supporters find his theories so compelling and so
self-evidently true, why hasn’t anyone designed
research to test these theories? Until that is done,
it is a cop-out to say that people remain skeptical
because they are unwilling to confront their own
histories of child abuse. That may be true in some
cases, but in all cases people have a right to be
skeptical about theories that are put forward on
one person’s authority and without controlled
research of any kind.
The one controlled study I mentioned was
conducted by Ted Goertzel and published in the
peer-reviewed journal Political Psychology in

125

1993. The study tested deMause’s theory about
group fantasies that he claimed caused the 19901991 Gulf War. Here is the link to the study
http://crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/cartoons.htm and
here is the abstract:
ABSTRACT: A content analysis of imagery in
editorial cartoons published from 1989 to 1991
suggests that the primary emotional function of
these cartoons is the ritual humiliation of leaders
through shame and ridicule. Indulgence and fear
are also frequent themes of the cartoons, as are
dangerous men, enemies and death. Sexuality,
birth and children appear infrequently. Contrary to
DeMause's hypothesis, there is no unusual change
in the imagery during the period leading up to the
Gulf War. Saddam Hussein may have served the
American psyche more as a target for externalizing
guilt feelings than as a feared enemy. but that does
not absolve a person who professes to be founding
a science from actually following the methods of
science.
Brian
Brian

126

Mar 4

CORRECTION: There was a sentence fragment of
mine (“but that does not absolve . . . methods of
science.) after the abstract I posted (below) that
was not part of the abstract.

Ken Fuchsman

Mar 5

Brian,
You are correct that there are a variety of methods
of science. What do you think DeMause meant
when he said psychohistory was a science? What
scientific standards did he think applied in history?
In the literature on historical methods, controlled
studies are rarely mentioned, neither is random
sampling, and historians generally do not believe
that the materials of their subject enable them to

127

systematically control for bias.
Psychohistory definitely needs to avoid cherry
picking the evidence. Historians regularly will
evaluate historical works on the basis of using all
the available evidence and often try to discover
new evidence. As psychology is divided into so
many diverging approaches, it is quite common for
psychologists to incorporate findings from their
approach and ignore the scholarship from other
psychological conceptions.
Not all historians believe history can base itself on
the kinds of scientific methods you mention. There
are books written on how historians at some times
wanted history to model itself on the sciences but
found that was not likely. There are diverging
conceptions of what psychological science entails.
In biology, Ernst Mayr had said that his discipline
cannot completely model itself on physics and
chemistry, and that biology itself is often closer to
history than to other natural sciences.
As psychohistorians, we are faced with the
challenge of coming up with methods of evaluating
claims that can take into account that standards in
history and psychology may well diverge.
Interdisciplines such as psychohistory often face

128

such challenges.
The issues you raise then can help open the
necessary dialogue on what standards of
evaluating claims apply to psychohistory. If
psychohistory is to come out of the wilderness it
currently occupies, it will need to confront the
epistemological challenges inherent in being an
interdiscipline.
J. I. (Hans`) Bakker

Mar 5 (21 hours ago)

Dear Brian, Ken, and others interested in testing
DeMause's research theories,
I found your use of the term "interdiscipline" quite
interesting Ken. You earlier made a distinction
between "interdisciplinarity" in general and an
"interdiscipline". Psychology and History together
form the "interdiscipline" of psychohistory. But for
the most part the epistemological assumptions of
the discipline of History are quite different from the
disciplinary assumptions of the discipline of

129

Psychology. The example of the study that Ted
Goertzel did to "test" DeMause's theory of a kind of
collective mental disorder is not very convincing
from the standpoint of the epistemological rigor
often required in the best journals in psychology
today. For me the problem lies with the
operationalization of the concepts. The cartoons
that are shown at the bottom of the page could be
interpreted in many different ways. The period of
time covered is quite short and does not allow for
comparison with times when there was no Saddam
Hussein to use as the straw man, boogeyman.
In the academic discipline of History (as opposed
to popular writing in history) there is a standard of
rigor based on adequate use of primary sources.
(The footnote was first invented as a device by
historians who started to actually refer to specific
archival documents to substantiate claims about
historical events and persons.)
What would be more convincing to me as a test of
DeMause's claim would go outside of the
"interdiscipline" of the phrase psychohistory and
look at the social psychological aspect of a
sociological investigation of public opinion. If
people are asked directly about their opinions of
cartoons that might be slightly more valid as a test
than if it is simply assumed that the general public

130

will be thinking A or B when a specific cartoon is
being examined by a researcher. A question like:
"What does this cartoon say to you?" might be a
beginning.
How could we ever completely disprove
DeMause's theory in general or his specific
research theory about cartoons during the specific
period studied? I would guess that no complete
disproof would be possible. If we found a dozen
cartoons that ran counter to his ideas (or if a dozen
subjects/respondents said they interpreted them
counter to DeMause's assumptions) then we would
still not have a "black swan".
Ideas can be useful and provocative without
necessarily being (strictly) "scientific", either in the
sense of the physical-natural sciences or even in
the expanded sense of the Wissenschaften.
It is true we need an adequate philosophy of
science and philosophy of social science (as well
as other aspects of epistemological views), but can
that really happen in this group?
Sincerely,
Hans J. I. Bakker (currently in Boston, having
just been in Manhattan for the weekend to attend

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the Eastern Sociological Society conference).

dr.bobstern

Mar 5 (21 hours ago)

Patrick makes a good point about all-too-human
resistance to change. Religions have a particularly
nasty time of it, as their ancient "texts" are
generally claimed to be "perfect" and "the word of
God". But, of course, in other endeavors, we
encounter similar resistances to change
(consciously or unconsciously) in our views of
"heroes" or "accepted wisdom." Examples are
everywhere.
--The controversy opened up by Jeffrey Masson re:
Freud's "Seduction Theory" is a case in point -actual child abuse or just fantasy? How the girls
were raised -- or how they IMAGINED they were
raised? Masson doing actual historical
investigation from primary documents....or a
vendetta against a hero?

132

--And, of course, the timeline of resistance to
medical science research results on the
bacteria/ulcer connection -- skepticism resolved,
resistance overcome by the usual, science-based
processes.
As far as interesting research attempting to
examine causal factors in human development:
Twins and Exercise.
Couldn't similar research be done (perhaps it has
been?) to investigate how peri-natal
experiences/"loving upbringing" affects genetically
identical people as they mature into adults?
Does the phrase "loving upbringing" have a
universally accepted meaning? For example, is
raising a child in an environment where "selfesteem" sunshine is constantly blown at them
without the child having to associate that feeling
with personal engagement -- "loving"? Or is it a
cruel delusion, creating unprepared adults destined
to be blindsided by the demands of a relatively
impersonal world that cares more about what they
do and far less about how they "feel"?
Ripe for study, one would think.
Bob

133

Brian

Mar 5 (18 hours ago)

This responds to Ken, Patrick and Hans. I think we
need to keep in mind the distinction between a
mature science like physics and a young science
like psychology. The former can lay claim to laws
of nature that can be described mathematically and
can make predictions; the latter, not. Even
neuroscience today is not a true science because
there is no credible underlying theory about how
the brain works. In the absence of such a theory,
we can test all kinds of superficial hypotheses and
collect mountains of data but it will not advance
true understanding.
I think that some of deMause’s work does make a
contribution to putting psychohistory on the path of
becoming a science, but his writings are a mixed
bag and it has done more harm than good for the
field when deMause and his followers have
claimed that his work IS science. If that were true,

134

it must meet the standards of scientific research
which it has not even begun to do. Ken, I think the
scientific theory in Lloyd’s work is the idea that
childrearing practices are a major causal factor in
explaining historical events and processes. The
current issue of Psychohistory News contains
excerpts from a Clio discussion on this subject. In
this discussion, I argued that Adorno et al’s The
Authoritarian Personality provided indirect
evidence for Lloyd’s psychogenic theory of history
(though not for the reductive form in which he
stated it). The article, “How Much Does
Childrearing Really Impact History,” is short and I
invite anyone interested to read it:
http://www.psychohistory.us/resources/IPA_2015_1
_winter.pdf Much, much more empirical work must
be done in this area before we can have anything
resembling science, but I think the psychogenic
theory in some form provides a deep and coherent
scientific theory that merits such a program of
empirical research.
Ken, The Authoritarian Personality strictly speaking
is political psychology, not psychohistory, but it is
such an important part of what psychohistorians (at
least some of us) need to be thinking about that I
don’t know what purpose it serves to say “this is
not psychohistory.” The world and good research
often do not fit neatly into the disciplinary boxes (or

135

even the interdisciplines) that universities create for
administrative purposes.
Patrick, you raise an important issue about the
need for psychohistorians to connect with our
research topics in a personal way. But it is hard if
not impossible to combine this kind of personal
involvement with the detachment needed to do
replicable scientific research of the sort that Ted
Goertzel did. So we may need to have a division
of labor in which different psychohistorians do
different kinds of research. The same issue arises
in psychology. Clinicians need to be reflecting on
transferences and countertransferences in order to
practice their craft and their contribution to
psychology needs to be combined with the very
different kind of research done by
neuropsychologists, for example. Freud, in fact,
tried to integrate just such disparate contributions
from different areas of psychology. We need to do
the same thing.
Hans, I don’t think you are being fair to Ted’s
article. Every researcher needs to choose a
methodology and whatever choice they make is
going to have strengths and limitations. In order to
do a content analysis, SOMEONE has to code the
items. Once the research has been done, another
researcher can look at the coding scheme, criticize

136

it, and propose an alternative that they can argue is
better for this or that reason. Then we can see
what difference this makes, if any, for the
conclusions of the research. Ted has done the
hard work of collecting a comprehensive data set
that can test deMause’s theory and only then can
we have a scientific discussion about alternative
coding schemes. Note that no such scientific
discussion is possible on the basis of Lloyd’s Gulf
War paper because there was no systemic data
collection; he only picked cartoons that fit his
theory and he provides no information whatsoever
about how typical these cartoons were in the media
content prior to the Gulf War. Also, Goertzel’s time
frame is quite sufficient to test Lloyd’ theory, which
claims that wars are caused by group fantasies
that change on a time scale of weeks and months.
I see a number of very serious problems with this
theory, but that is another discussion. Given
Lloyd’s theory, Ted’s research provides a
reasonable test of it.
Brian
—————

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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 5 (21 hours ago)

Anyone who finds substantial support for
DeMause's theories is in a very precarious
position. What no psychohistorian will admit about
themselves, is that they don't actually want him
proven right. They might want to
find some corroborating evidence, but with enough
of his theories shown up to show once again why
DeMause needs to be kept on a very short leash.
Let the discipline be lead by those who'd muzzle
him. Now, finally, with him "dogged," the rest of his
colleagues might count the rest of psychohistory in.
(There's an added benefit, which I discuss below.)
What we need is a different intellectual climate.
With people who are emotionally ready to accept
his ideas, we'll see how many of these studies
disproving DeMause were helpful, or just shameful
efforts to place themselves within a cozy of
historians the rest of the department would admire
for keeping the lash on DeMause's back. A shame
to the reputation of scientists, a plus to the

138

attraction of kicking the weak and vulnerable.
Brian is right, Lloyd did talk about psychohistory as
a science -- something provable, which I think it
is ... or maybe, rather, self-evident, like the fact that
there's a sun in the sky. He also talked about
people's emotional resistance to accepting truth -something that would override clear proof, like an
internal perpetrator alter overriding youthful
reach/impulse. He probably didn't talk enough
about it enough. If what you're doing would force
people to think about their own childhoods, reexperience the vulnerability and humiliations, if it
would force them to think hard on their own
relationships with their mothers -- cast doubt on her
motives, show her up! -- your efforts are producing
exactly the sort of material we established inner
alters -- for DeMause, more "internal persecutory
alters" than "super-ego" -- in the first place to be on
the look for and shut down.
But as much as the works of his I most re-read are
his later works -- Emotional Life of Nations and The
Origins of War in Child Abuse -- his later works do
show what shaping his discipline so that it would
appeal more to the scientific community did to his
willingness to take risks, to appear embarrassing,
to be inspiring. There are thousands of notes -every sentence seems to have at least one

139

attached. What there aren't, are references like he
has in Foundations of how he himself would curl up
into a fetal position in order to experience what
people in previous epochs were experiencing. No
sign, that is, of anything like this:
From Foundations:
Each chapter is a new scientific experiment, in
which I try to identify with the actors in the
historical drama and explore my own unconscious
as a way of reaching historical motivations. Only if I
can
accomplish this inner act of discovery can I move
back to new historical material to test the patterns
of
motivation and group dynamics I think I have
found. As Dilthey recognized long ago, this is the
only way
one can do psychohistory. Ultimately, a psyche can
only explore itself to discover the motives of
another.
The motives of another species, insofar as they are
wholly different in kind from ours, are literally
unknowable. It is only by discovering the "Hitler in

140

ourselves" that we can understand a Hitler. If one
denies one has a "Hitler in ourselves," one cannot
do psychohistory. I, like Hitler, have been a beaten,
frightened child and a resentful youth. I recognize
him in myself, and with some courage can feel in
my
own guts the terrors he felt that helped produce the
European Gotterddmmerung .
The necessity for plunging into the depths of one's
own psyche when doing psychohistorical
research often leads critics to confuse introspection
with hallucination. Political psychologist Lloyd
Etheredge admits he can't figure out whether
"deMause's work is either that of a bold, visionary
genius-or
is wacky enthusiasm for his own excited fantasies."
Historian Lawrence Stone wonders on reading my
work how "to solve the problem of how to regard so
bold, so challenging, so dogmatic, so enthusiastic,
so
perverse, and yet so heavily documented a model."
And David Stannard is afraid introspection is only

141

regression, calling my work "well beyond the fringe
of even the most generous definition of
scholarship"
because, he says, I do my research by spending"
'hundreds of hours' crawling under the bedclothes
with a
two-year-old searching for answers to the riddles of
history." Introspection is clearly a dangerous task,
and those who attempt it in psychohistory are likely
to be accused of being the sole source of the
fantasies
they investigate.
Because introspection is such an important tool in
investigating historical motivation the personal
life of a psychohistorian must be intimately
connected with his or her choice of topic. "Nothing
loved or
hated, nothing understood" is a truism in the
psychological sciences. It should surprise no one
that during
the decade of my life in which I researched and
wrote these chapters I lived through all its topics,

142

writing
about the evolution of childhood during my son's
childhood, the origins of war during my divorce,
and the
fetal origins of history during my new wife's
pregnancy. I could also trace the influence of my
first and
second psychoanalysis on these essays, or the
development of our Institute for Psychohistory, or of
The
Journal of Psychohistory where these essays were
first published. All are relevant to discovery. But
ultimately what counts is how well the theory
explains the evidence. I methodically study my own
dreams
to help me understand both my role in
psychohistorical groups and my historical materialbecause
history, like dreams, makes perfectly good sense
when you know its laws of symbolic transformation.
Yet
my psychohistorical theories do not derive their
truth value from my dreams, but from their power to

143

explain the shared motives of individuals in
historical groups.
When was the last time you heard a social scientist
talk about the importance of introspection? How
their own childhoods and their own evolving lives
were affecting what they needed to make of the
material they were studying? Couldn't we do with
more people like that, rather than those who add
muscle to the fantasy of the scientific reasoner, so
disciplined to truth, all the fawning hands trying to
mislay her/him to think of career, reputation -- the
dangers of unwelcome discoveries --get brushed
aside as s/he goes steadfast where the results
lead.
-- Patrick
P.S. It is irresponsible for people to show how
DeMause's has been disproved by such and such
a study, not to acknowledge what kind of climate
would have awaited her if she showed just how
much he got right. The person who kept her testing
of DeMause to his less aggravating theories -- i.e.
those dealing with ostensibly universal theories,
like the womb experience; those that don't draw us
back to thinking of the particulars of our
experiences with mom, how she yelled at us, how

144

she withdrew, when we were already so scared
and needful! -- has more room to let the facts
prove him right without getting a swat from her
peers. But anyone who'd done work to prove things
like war and societal Depressions and the nature of
international relations actually do relate back to the
nature of our relationships with our mothers, has
exactly no chance of gaining approval within the
scientific community, regardless of facts. They
would shame her, they would want to dispose of
her.
Any scientist going in would know this amply, and
this student at graduate school who got all As and
therefore probably never took any substantial risks
and who became ace at sorting out what agitates
and what doesn't, doesn't need to be reminded of
what happened to graduate students supporting
DeMause's research during psychohistory's heady
times, when they put their thesises before PhD
committees of scared but empowered goons, to
make his results fit preference.
He would feel no guilt, because he'd of done work
which waylaid efforts to put the spotlight on mom,
and the Terrifying Mom in his own head would be
applauding him so much for defeating the enemy,
for being, finally, such a very, very good and loyal
boy. No guilt, because he was being true to mom,

145

the originator, rather than to the permitted play of
those already subordinate to her (scientists),
always cooperating with her orders to make sure
never to do anything which pisses her off.
We create a new climate ... I'll start taking a look at
these studies, but not when it's being done by
people who'll need approval and can't handle the
apocalypse of being on the out. We need those
who read DeMause and finally note that
everywhere he talks about mom ... shouldn't first
step be introspection on our relationship with her,
including it within all our studies? If it's just wombs,
how pumps of good blood then bad blood affect us,
how the swoosh of expulsion affects us, how far
are we from a discipline in which autistics who
know figures and diagrams and who feel
comfortable with mechanical parts and no doubt
also with Disney rides, but can't reflect on their own
emotional experience, take the lead? Here, we're
exploring what it is to be born within the dynamics
of a washing cycle, not what it was to bear the
anger and rejection of our mothers.
-- Patrick
dr.bobstern

146

Mar 5 (19 hours ago)

Patrick,
Any discipline that does not welcome skepticism is,
frankly, not engaged in anything remotely
resembling science. An intellectual climate of
"acceptance" runs the risk of being a wolf in
sheep's clothing -- it appears to value
ingenuousness over rigor. By all means consider
hypotheses, no matter how strange. But, don't just
buy them as presented. Which brings me to this:
"....Lloyd did talk about psychohistory as a science
-- something provable, which I think it is ... or
maybe, rather, self-evident, like the fact that there's
a sun in the sky."
Anything that appears "self-evident" needs to be
examined. "The sun is in the sky" is about as
profound an insight as "the sun moves in the sky."
Of course, the sun isn't "in the sky"any more than it
actually "moves in the sky." The strange idea that

147

the Earth rotates on an axis and orbits around a
Sun in a heliocentric solar system is one that is not
self-evident. But, nevertheless, those insights are
a greater approximation to the "truth" of the matter.
Perhaps DeMausse's insights are like Galileo's -but,there are ways to establish that. Ad hominems
and appeals to "the self-evident" aren't winners.
Bob
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 5 (19 hours ago)

Perhaps DeMausse's insights are like Galileo's -but,there are ways to establish that. Ad hominems
and appeals to "the self-evident" aren't winners.
Sure, because those who just go about their testing
and find he is in fact equivalent to Galileo(!), aren't
going to require some cleared ground first. See,
yes sir, it turns out the facts do lend toward
supporting DeMause's supposition that the nature

148

of international relations depends almost entirely
on whether or not the participants were cared for
or abandoned by their mothers -- We have here on
our hands the next evolution of philosophical
thought!!! May I, sir, entertain you with the data ...
I think not: some safe hippie-Berkeley confines are
going to have to be created for them, with all its
effective -- and earned -- anti-establishment heat.
Back off, suits!
And besides, I'm just calling it like it is. Selfevident, was calling it like it is.
-- Patrick
me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Mar 5 (18 hours ago)

Third and last post today.
I actually have some faith that you could, if the
facts warranted it, declare DeMause the next
Galileo, without any ground needing to be cleared

149

for you -- I think you could handle whatever the fall.
Genuinely, kudos! That's the way to be -- an
enviable powerhouse.
There are too many encouragements however for
the young to play it safe -- we've done everything
we can to tame their instinct to be radical, to balk
authority and really change things ... so this
student debt-ridden, austerity culture, this cling-towhatever-you've-got culture we live in. If you're
smart and got an angle on a place within academia
that might actually pay, you're nipping your instinct
to be radical in the bud, be sure! Somehow, your
thesis is going to align with expectations -however much your supervisors are delighting in
it's rather-easy-for-them-to-assimilate ostensible
brilliance. (One suspects it's all about keeping their
own self image intact, since it should be harder to
daly at conferences and enjoy life's sweets ... while
ceding easy accolades to ongoing flows of
intellectual Robespierres -- at least some signs of
indigestion, no?)
The least I can do is remind them of how good it
feels to speak and pursue life in an uninhibited
fashion. Some might say, you know what? that
feels good enough that I'll forsake my safe path
through this punishing period, and become
potentially just a loser to everyone who knows me,

150

to be like that, to know myself like that.
And so with that, you might see terrific, innovative,
youthful scientific/artistic movements emerge out of
those periods of time where a dramatic show was
intended to be made of how all the pretentious
"spoiledness" in youthfulness was going to be
sacrificed.
Respectfully,
Patrick

The Hobbit (Tolkien)
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-45ZDrB3yWM/VRVey1CNEsI/AAAAAAAAAiM/n9t9V-o_V5Q/s1600/Thehobbit-book-cover1.jpg

The Hobbit (Tolkien)
(a cleaned up version of a paper written in 2014)
I think the thing that must seem most curious about this
adventure to slay a dragon and reclaim a homeland and
its treasure, is how the hell could adding a burglar to this
motley crew be adding the decisive factor? What's the
trick? For there must be one, since the dragon has only
gotten larger and more deadly as the years have gone by.
Peter Jackson changes things so that a burglar is needed
because someone small and stealthy needs to enter

151

Smaug’s lair to perhaps snatch one especially bright,
one especially brilliant jewel—the Arkenstone—
ostensibly readily noticeable even given its being
shrouded by lesser delights. With that stone Thorin will
earn control over seven kingdoms of dwarves, and with
their might the dragon would finally look to be
overmatched. In the book, it develops into a situation
where, regarding the fighting and the killing the dragon,
they decide that a full frontal attack of just themselves is
their best bet, even as they agree that even the best
armor hasn't a chance against Smaug.
I like to think that the one who recruited the hobbit
Bilbo, the one who insisted on him—the wizard
Gandalf, of course—had an inkling that their only
chance now was not to pit themselves against Smaug's
might but against his “overwhelming personality.” If to
take on a dragon you need a “dragon,” tremendous
physical might—several armies, or a singular hero of
renown—and you haven't any, then maybe it's best to
match personas—put a Watson next to his Holmes, and
see what compatibility might jostle your way. And
where do you find any such these days, people with
considerable layers of self, of personality, and yet also—
needed to effectively play sidekick while the other
luxuriates as star—humility? Amongst those always at
work or perpetually at war? No, this wears, doesn't
develop. In great kings? Maybe not even—for Elrond is
“noble,” “strong,” “wise,” and “kind,” which makes him

152

seem a great figurehead but not someone you can safely
invite over without taking over. Certainly not Thorin,
for, “for being important,” means this is all he’s leant to
doing, as “if he had been allowed, he would have
probably gone on like this until he was out of breath,
without telling any one there anything that was not
known already.” Maybe not, interestingly, even Gandalf
—for you notice how he can at times lose himself into
becoming a phenomena, pure vengeance, not just when
he blinds a cave of goblins and wrenches off the king
goblin’s head, but more so where “[t]he sudden
splendour flashed from his wand like lightning, as he
got ready to spring down from on high right among the
spears of the goblins. That would have been the end of
him, though he would probably have killed many of
them as he as he came hurdling down like a
thunderbolt.” You actually find them in places so far
removed from the rest of the world, they can, like Bilbo,
exist undisturbed for fifty years in one place, ruminating
in their books, compounding their reading and daily
encounters into their compiling selves.
He may not appear to have a great tale yet to tell but as a
frequent host he’s already great at conversing, great at
managing all the emanations of the human so to
properly register, compliment and encourage rather than
toil, try and discourage those he’s talking with. In my
preferred reading of Gandalf the most important thing
he did for Bilbo’s self-development wasn’t so much his

153

prompting his going out on an adventure as it was his
testing his already highly developed social skills with
repeat doses of the unaccounted for. (What happens
when you have to accommodate something strange
within the strides of your conversation, Bilbo?) That is,
his making a hash out of Bilbo’s initial greeting—his
initial efforts to manage him by way of “good
mornings”—and, as well, his subsequently besieging
him with dwarves, in through the door. Confronted with
a dragon, he’ll be dealing with someone who loves
conversation, riddles, and comfortably lounging amidst
acquired clutter as much as he does. But as much as he
might find himself surprised at how strangely
accustomed he feels during his pinnacle heroic moment,
it’s still not going to be like sitting down for tea with the
Brandybucks. He’s going to need to adjust and expand
his skills before he could possibly be ready.
The dwarves will serve as carapace, armor to get him
through the wild. It’d be pointless to explain to them
how Bilbo is actually akin to Smaug—“he’s actually a
what? a dragon? and that's why he's useful? … Smoking
a bit too much Halfling weed there, are thee,
Gandalf?”—so Gandalf explains him in terms they’ll
get. Thus: “I tried to find [a hero]; but warriors are busy
fighting one another in distant lands, and in this
neighbourhood heroes are scarce, or simply not to be
found. Swords in these parts are mostly blunt, and axes
are used for trees, and shields as cradles or dish-covers;

154

and dragons are comfortably far-off (and therefore
legendary). That is why I settled on burglary—
especially when I remembered the existence of a Sidedoor.” With that the dwarves would look at small Bilbo,
of a stealthy race, and it would look to appear good
common sense on behalf of the wizard. And so off on
the trails, to business, before any of them consider just
how one even highly stealthy burglar could possibly
help them reclaim a kingdom of gold.
In my reading, Gandalf deliberately misleads Bilbo as
well, convinces him that his journey is to become more
a Took, someone great not for knowing fifty years of
comfort but rather a lengthy spell of adventure. And
he’ll become that, reclaim his heritage, when he too can
possess things beyond what hobbits could be expected
to accommodate themselves to, very much including the
dispatching of fearsome beasts. This, after all, is the
enticement you offer anyone who’s delighted himself on
stories but who’s been still most of their lives. You
besiege him as if all the faeries in the world he’s
rejoiced in reading and hearing about would reject him
if now, finally, after passing him by his whole life, they
dangled opportunity before him. You do this, even if the
truth is—as it looks to be as soon as he steps outside,
where they go “far into the Lone-lands where there were
no people left, no inns, and the roads grew steadily
worse”—that venturing outside the supplying hearth can
put you in sparser settings, with more barren people,

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that can as much deplete as invigorate you, because,
unfortunately, persuading him of the more interesting
truth, that for him “to be all that he can be” still means
keeping rather more of his Baggins’ self than it does his
reclaiming his Took,’ is only something he might
understand after the journey was over, when the Took
side has been found, denatured, and ready for
unromanticized reappraisal.
Needing to believe he'll only be useful a long ways off,
it's appropriate that compared to the horse-riding Bullroarer Took he's been primed to hope to liken himself to,
he starts off on “a very small pony,” and that he isn't
actually useful for some time. The first useful thing he
does demonstrates no ability on his part. It's pure luck
that he finds a dropped key that provides access to a
provisioning troll hoard. The second is a backhanded
accomplishment: it's because he is too nervous to sleep
well that he awakens to goblins sneaking up on them in
the dark, thereby keeping Gandalf safe from being
caught. And since his real talent is not in sneaking
around but in agreeable conversation—however slippery
and deceptive and sly he might prove therein—it’s
appropriate that the first time he makes an impression
upon the dwarves is when he’s elated out of having used
a skill he’s actually very good at.
This is after his encounter with Gollum, of course, when
he appears miraculously before them just after being

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discounted as lost to them for good. But before getting
to this, it’s interesting to ask yourself how much more
Bilbo distinguishes himself to us when he has his
chance to prove commendable in combat than he does
when he does so in conversation. Does being a warrior
dispatching a large number of fiends really demonstrate
his worth as much as his matching wits with great
named denizens of the wild? In Mirkwood forest, he
kills a lot of giant spiders—a lot. He’s brutally efficient
with a sword and sublime with a sling (a proficiency, we
note, the film steals from him to emphasize in the wood
elves). And it sure means a lot to him—“[s]omehow the
killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the
dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of
anyone else, made a great deal to Bilbo. He felt a
different person, and much fiercer and bolder.” But,
well, of course it does, because he’d been convinced
that maybe not ever having done what Bull-roarer had
done meant he’d been asleep all his life. But it’s
possible that however much it meant for him to go on
the offence physically with sling and sword, it may have
been just his going on the offence which thrilled—a
talent, an orientation, maybe not sufficiently exercised
in all his duties as a good host easing conflicts while
quick with a re-supply of tea. But without that talent
too, being someone who knows how to calm agitation
and thereby keep a conversation going, he might never
have manipulated Gollum into accepting that their
interaction might be bound by rules out of a gentleman's

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club—involving respect for fair play—rather than the
gutters. A clever stratagem that however much it wasn't
decisive in his besting Gollum, did stretch out his
encounter with him, giving him extended practice as a
conversationalist in a dangerous situation.
Gandalf couldn't have known Bilbo would meet Gollum,
but he knew there was a good chance that before his
encountering Smaug he'd find himself alone with foes
maybe with enough to them that part of the engagement
would involve dialogue and the bandying of wits. Being
a burglar and a scout to the company guaranteed as
much, for he'd be the first to encounter enemies—and
Gandalf would know Bilbo would default to his true
familiarity and expertise every time an alien situation
gave signal it would be amenable to it. Indeed, he's out
in the lead with the company's first encounter in the
wild, their tangling with the mountain trolls, Bert, Tom
and William. He's not especially good here; unlike the
film, he isn't the one who strings out the conversation so
that “dawn claims them all” but rather only Gandalf solo
who does so. However, he wretches himself out of
simply being caught out and bewildered to in fact
converse with them, endeavoring a stratagem, built out
of what he's seen of them, that might have developed
their encounter in an unexpected and fortuitous way—
specifically, his offering to fill their gizzards in a
different way, as their cook.

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He doesn't initiate the riddle game with Gollum, but he
reads that Gollum's ability—after having seen Bilbo's
sword—to restrain himself means that he might be
dealing with someone who may not be simply “fierce
and hungry,” so he certainly goes along with the
proposition. He blends courtesy in with slyness, giving
Gollum the chance to go first and thereby possibly
stymieing Bilbo before he's had any chance to ask his
own riddle, presumably out of generosity or decorum—
the person who proposes goes first—but really because
he “hadn't had time to think of a riddle.” He's skillful to
emphasize elements of their game which make it less a
terrible struggle than just good sport between
gamesmen. He teases Gollum, when he “whispered and
spluttered” in frustration, that “[t]he answer's not a
kettle boiling over, as you seem to think from the noise
you're making,” which leads to Gollum’s actually
pleading with him. He also restrains him through
reminding him of the allowance (of time) that had just
been given him, “[h]alf a moment,” “I gave you a good
long chance just now.” There's not just a lot of back and
forthing but significant on the spot thinking involved.
His life was on the line and he managed his way past
numerous moments of doubt and possible missteps to
push the thing to a finish in his favor, favorably
prepping him for Smaug.
The riddle game is about withholding information,
keeping secrets, releasing them only when earned. Since

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it wasn't earned, Bilbo never tells Gollum what he had
in his pockets. Bilbo doesn't at first tell the dwarves nor
Gandalf about the magical ring either—“not just now,”
he ruminates. Gandalf espies that Bilbo may not have
revealed everything about how he escaped the goblins,
but doesn't press him on it. I prefer to think he does this
because he realizes one of the things that makes Bilbo
different is that he isn't one who’ll divulge before he's
had a chance to process what he's learned or acquired
that he knows holds value, even as he himself might be
inclined to do. There may not be much significance to
the fact that just after Bilbo chooses to withhold
information we hear of the wizard's eager willingness to
disclose—“[t]he wizard, to tell the truth, never minded
explaining his cleverness more than once”—but then
again, there might be … and he might well have been
aware of it. At any rate, I like to think that Gandalf
realized that individuality, interestingness, doesn't come
if you don't process the world to some extent on your
own, refusing to share if it means you hadn't given your
experiences a chance to ripen inside of you first. Bilbo
had read a library of books, and you're kidding yourself
if you think that after every tale he didn't sit back and
think about and argue with and otherwise personally sift
through what he'd been patiently engaging with, before
discussing what he had just read with a neighbor. If that
had been the case, he wouldn't have read in an armchair
within a beloved reclusive study but outside amidst the
commons, where every second sentence could be recited

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for others' benefit and “your” own broadcast, if he felt
the urge. He would need to have depth to interest the
grand, learned Smaug. And mystery—a taste of the
bidding, withheld. And he would need to be one with
sufficient respect for and practice in withholding that
even when pressed by a hypnotic charmer like Smaug,
he could keep baiting an aroused curiosity so that
something might “innocently” be learned.
Gandalf isn't there for Bilbo when he faces Smaug,
something he might have known could prove the case,
despite his promise, for it not actually being his
adventure. But before he goes off he shows Bilbo a fair
simulacrum of what his encounter with him might
involve, as if to say, this is pretty much what you're
going to have to pull off. Gandalf enters the abode of the
great Beorn, a personage with a fierce temper but also a
healthy respect for good gamesmanship and well-told
stories, and finesses him perfectly. And Mr Baggins, in a
way you never hear him in regards to the abundance of
sword-fighting or arrow-launching on his journeys,
remarks on the skill, as if a fellow adept admiring
another versed in the trade: “Mr Baggins saw how
clever Gandalf had been. The interruptions had really
made Beorn more interested in the story, and the story
had kept him from sending the dwarves off at once like
suspicious beggars.”
With Gandalf gone Bilbo emerges as the company

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leader, and when he takes on Smaug all of Gandalf's
hopes for him are realized. Smaug, who'd only been
pretend-sleeping, tries to draw him out, but Bilbo
refuses—graciously, with flattery. With this, with denial
cagily sweetened into a gift, Smaug realizes he's hardly
dealing with some ass possessed of a battle-axe, who
could and should be dispatched just as soon as he could
be tricked into revealing himself, but someone smart
enough to make it as if by doing so a host would be
shortchanged a good time with a genuinely intriguing
guest. To let his thief know this, that for awhile he'll be
accorded, also, the role as a not-entirely-unwelcome
guest, he signals he's situated himself within a guesthost framework, where the rule is no initiation of
termination until interest wains. So he offers the like of
“lovely titles, but lucky numbers don't always come
off,” and “[t]hat's better. But don't let your imagination
run away from you,” which overtly convey that he’s
genuinely interested in turning something with potential
into something finely honed—a game.
Smaug wants him to continue not just to enable some
entertainment but to find out more about his intrusion as
a thief—who’s behind him? what’s the full intent?—of
course. But for reasons of enjoyment, his keeping it also
at this level means he's keeping things where the odds
even up between them … and Bilbo knows not just how
to pacify but by this time well how to strike for the
killing blow. Bilbo, with flare, had revealed all that

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enticed about him—his being a mysterious barrel-rider,
and so on—and Smaug, in reply and having fun, reveals
all that bedazzles about his own grand self. His teeth, his
claws … but unfortunately also, his “impenetrable”
armor, which it turns out has got a piece missing,
uncared for because Smaug doesn’t care a wit about
mending. The movie shows this as just dumb luck on the
part of Bilbo, but the book has it that he was working
his way to just such a reveal to get further confirmation
of something he thought he noticed the first time he
found himself before him. And proving the loser in this
domain, Smaug is rendered so that a single skillfully
shot arrow can now end him. Bilbo got access to
information that would have made the expedition
feasible as a military enterprise right from the start.
So as I've said, I like to slightly alter the Gandalf in the
book to imagine him as thinking up a plausible way to
take down a formidable dragon who’d been lord of the
mountain long enough. I'm not sure I'm doing any
alteration of him, though, to think that what he had also
hoped for was to accustom the world, maybe even
significantly, to what a long-term denizen of a
comfortable hole might offer it—that is, for a larger,
even perhaps ultimately more realm-saving purpose, as
well. Part of what makes Bilbo special is that no matter
how much people talk to him about roles, the sad fate of
who he is and of whom he really ought to become,
despite his adventures he never really lets go of who he

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just intrinsically is from the start, which is someone
fundamentally decent whose love of his own wellprovisioned life means he can extend consideration
upon “yours” as well. Bilbo isn't just good to people
because he sees something for himself in it but because
he can put himself in other people's position and
emphasize. This has him do things which might look
small, irrelevant to the quest, pointless, but in fact if
they were well known outside the Shire the wild would
lose much of what is truly wicked about it and there'd be
less evil around to need questing against. I'm thinking of
his noticing Gollum's being “alone, miserable, lost,” and
deciding therefore it not only inappropriate to simply
countenance him as “foul” but to think it just to “stab”
him. And of how he decides to return an elf-guard's keys
so the guard wouldn't be blamed for their escape
because he’d appreciated his having been fair to them,
and could identity with his situation. And of course,
through his sundering them of the precious Arkenstone,
of how he “betrays” his friends by giving his “enemies”
a hold on them, and thereby doing nothing less than
maybe preventing a war. The arrival of the goblin army
means they wouldn't have warred against each other
anyway, but the significance is in the larger realm
outside the Shire being more accustomed to this kind of
selfless and sophisticated way of reading a situation and
acting. It's in their noticing what he did here, not so
much how clever (not that it wasn’t a bit) but how
strong and good he had been here, letting himself be

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seen as a traitor to his friends to have a chance to spare
them their lives. Not a one of them would have thought
of that.
Before he dies, Thorin acknowledges he learned
something new from Bilbo, something significant
enough that it ought fairly be carved as large onto
mountains as any visage of the ancients: “There is more
of good in you than you know, child of the kindly West.
Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If
more of us valued food and cheer and song above
hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Maybe with
messages like this blazoned everywhere, those worn
from the wild might range their way to Bilbo's
comfortable hole in the ground, much more respectfully
this time. There is after all in a sense a pint-sized Smaug
to be found there, only one who’s greatest proficiency
incurs with a swill of tea rather than with a blast of fire,
and who, rather than always render, can build you up
and mend.

Perpetrator history

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nkp4NPdfRiI/VPcjxOmtuoI/AAAAAAAAAh0/d6QFI_GLhA/s1600/midnight-in-paris-locandina-trailer-716x1024.jpg

One of the interesting things that happened over the last
year was a realization amongst many on the left that
perpetrators of considerable power, could be taken
down. Even a few years ago, powerhouses like Bill

165

Cosby, Woody Allen, and Ghomeshi (in Canada, he was
a superstar) just couldn't be put in the situation, where
for crimes of child abuse and rape, they could actually
lose their power and be sundered to prison. If you were
one of their victims, you could feel that the collective
need to keep them vital would mean some means would
be found to silence your cause -- your protests would
have no chance: even many liberals wouldn't speak up
for you -- what presumption, you! Your best salve would
be to try not to read the next biography about them,
which would surely gloss over any accusations made
against them and salute them as great men. But this year,
you could feel that somehow this was changing ... that
now empathy for victims was such that more people
registered the harm these men had done and saw them
not as greats under (unfair) assault but more and more as
vile perpetrators. An example is Lena Dunhams'
estimation of not just Allen but his work, experiencing
the child-molester in his films that previously the left
had only kept on the shelf, proudly, as identity/classmarkers.
Something similar, I think, is happening now in relation
to history. The number of times Pinker's book has been
referenced, along now with "the Moral Arc," is
astonishing. Pinker, as I've mentioned before, doesn't
say that modern wo/man is constitutionally different
people from living a thousand years ago, but does argue
that societies have become less and less violent across

166

the time. "The Moral Arc" comes closer to saying that
people themselves have changed, and much for the
better. This is not done in a climate of blaming early
societies, castigating them, but they evidently aren't
working to nevertheless bulwark the past against
modern judgment, as historians were once so capable of
doing.
People influenced by these works aren't so much
arguing that we have to careful when we judge people
living before us, because they were only living
according to what they knew -- and mightn't we
overselves find ourselves judged by historians in the
future? -- but rather arguing that since the past as it turns
out is full of perpetrating, sexist, immoral bastards -even the best, the most liberal, of its greats, were sexist
a-holes or the like, and that includes the like of its
women, people like Virginia Woolf! -- the last thing we
would actually want is spend time with them. If you
want a sample of this reaction, check out this article at
Salon.com: No "Midnight in Paris, " rather, You
would've hated your heroes.
History is becoming, to more and more of the informed,
a bit akin to DeMause's "nightmare we are just waking
up from," but one's association with it, one's protection
and support of it, not as innocent as this phrasing might
imply/allow. If you choose to enter the past, you're
choosing to associate with a room chock-full of

167

repellent Bill Cosbys, Ghomeshis, Woody Allens, and
Adrian Petersons. There is no difference in what you're
doing than if you chose, now, knowing what we know of
him, to nevertheless still go see Bill Cosby's latest
comedy performance, arguing that he's still got it!
I've never myself like the term psychohistory. I've
always wanted to drop the history part of it, and said as
much to DeMause. History is nightmare! Why the hell
are we latching ourselves to it! I wonder if in the new
climate that might be emerging if more and more young
progressive minds will refuse to abide his decision, and
study his innovative workings on child abuse and
society, on how widespread parental rejection is the
most profound factor in adults choosing to vote in
politicians that curb growth, on the emotional life of
nations, in some venue spared its beloved "psycho"
being latched to the abhorrent perpetrating sex-fiend -history.
[Originally posted at Clio's History.]

Dispatches from Clio's History
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/5bmrldPW86s/VO87JLEghXI/AAAAAAAAAg8/VLDi-X_L0DY/s1600/ClioMignard.jpg

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me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)
Feb 10
Hi, I thought I'd introduce myself.
I'm Patrick McEvoy-Halston. I've been reading
DeMause's work for years, and its influenced my
writings on literature and film. DeMause deals with
material that is tough, very tough, to associate with
progressives. The history part of what he's done is
being brought up again -- the idea that societies have
been progressing -- but those liberals advocating it,
like Steven Pinker (whom as a progressive I actually
do not trust), are careful not to suggest that human
beings have been improving, becoming biologically
superior, and this seems to have been sufficient to
prevent it from rankling.
This is of course what DeMause asserts, that
childrearing has been improving across time, as
mothers give their children more love than they
received, leading to people who are objectively
superior -- in his view, the liberal reader of the New
Yorker is a thousand times more emotionally evolved
than the New Guinea tribesman/woman. It is hard to
imagine this flying today as a prospect worth
exploring in any meeting of decent people. So too his
explanations for the origins of autism,

169

homosexuality ... and overall his focus on the mother
as the central factor on whether peoples are peaceful
or violent.
I don't know how much work can be done on his
theories today -- collectively our brains may just be
too set on seeing it as rightwing -- but I'm hoping it's
being done, which is why I joined this list. DeMause's
thoughts have changed over time -- his first works talk
a lot about the importance of the fetus's journey,
something experienced by us all, but later becomes
just another "extension" upon which the influence of
the mother, how depressed or how loved she was, is
explored. I'd love if work was being done that noted
how his thoughts have changed, and whether they've
decided that his later work is more to be trusted (my
view). If someone actually showed how his work
could be improved, where his theories fail, in a way
that convinced me, I'd be delighted. I've read many
challenges, but admit I see it as regression, perhaps
because looking at his work straight means incurring
your own mother's wrath/abandonment, as it means
you're clearly not prepared to lie to help her save face
either, nor efface and co-opt to gain her approval.
If you're interested in seeing some of the work I've
done, writing about literature, feel free to explore it
here:
https://www.scribd.com/doc/25499784/Draining-theAmazon-s-Swamp-All-we-are-prepared-to-do-when-

170

we-read-write-watch-make-live-our-fictions
or here: http://thepsycholiteraryreview.blogspot.ca
My current writings, my writings on film, are found
here: http://patricksjustincasesite.blogspot.ca
Thanks for your time. I'll be lurking, respectfully. But
as a finish, a thought: if one is DeMausian
psychohistorian, you really can't in good conscience
advocate the study of history. You go back in time,
you're dealing with people who were raised with less
warmth, and from whom you have little to learn -they're a study of depravity. If it doesn't worsen you,
it's less time spent with those who could have
improved you.
—————-

drwargus

171

Feb 11

Lloyd's childrearing stages also create different
mindsets and worldviews in the children. The more
the abuse, the more primitive the empathy and overall
cognition. When the child reaches puberty, he/she
begins to look at the world and ask: "where do I fit in?
What opportunities does the world offer for me?"
Societal status effects that vision. Privileged children
have more opportunities than those from Ferguson
Missouri.
Cognitive dissonance can set in when some strict,
rigid parenting sets up a worldview in the children that
does not match reality. My feeling is that ISIS is just
such a response. There is no room in "their perceived
outside world" for their religion, their beliefs, their
culture, their future, and ultimately their egos. (It is
analagous in our country when a fundamentalist
hears about evolution, or the right to life movement
clashes with unwanted pregnancies, or freedom of
religion clashes with nuns who brandish yardsticks.)
There is simply no cognitive space for this outside
world in their egocentric minds. They sense that they
are being attacked and the only thing that they know
how to do is fight back. People thus regress into very
primitive and tribal defense mechanisms.

172

One of my few criticisms of Lloyd's work is that he
tries to explain everything on the basis of psychology.
Parenting (nurture) effects DNA (nature), but once the
damage is done via child abuse, the environment is
excluded. The damaged psyches are not subject to
environment anymore. Wars are restaged traumas,
period. No room is made for life conditions (like
poverty, access to resources, etc.) that are constantly
changing. PH thus becomes static as opposed to
dynamic.
Bill

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 11

Hey Bill. Yeah, that is essentially his view. If one
agrees with him, he's not so much static as he is
sticking to the point. Pointlessly straying less, he
encourages fertile explorations of the relationship
between mother and child in the first few years of life.
I'm sure you've read his criticism of the environment
as an explanation for historical change. He shows

173

some pretty exciting ways in which harsh
environments -- the kind we'd expect to have a major
influence on a person ... such things as fighting in
wars, living in denying terrains -- are ones we actually
choose to be in, if we've emerged out of certain
childhoods. It's interesting -- ballsy-- and helpful,
because such is the command now of "environment"
-- poverty, PTSD, geopolitical "shaming" -- as a
factor, one mentions someone's dismissing it and
you've obligated that person outside of serious
consideration.
Personally, it matches up. Your brain develops in the
countless interactions with your mother (or mother
and father, if, like, I'm sure all of us, we came out
reasonably progressive families, where the father was
also present and involved), with most of that
happening early. If I was rich, the charities I would
donate to would be those that would ensure the early
contact between mother and child was assisted as
much as possible. Reducing poverty is of course
going to help that, but I'd want caregivers in to assist
the mother's interacting with the child, with no thought
of leaving until the first few years were done.
And about your first paragraph, I would like to mention
that Lloyd's view, concerning those whose childhoods
were as adverse as terrorists, is that that attitude,
"what does the world offer me?," is shut down mostly
by the young adult him/herself ... s/he feels in
attending to and thinking primarily of him/herself,

174

s/he's now outside his/her mother's approval and love
-- has been completely abandoned by her -- and
backs away immediately. What's particularly awful
about an austerity-world that shuts down opportunity
is it means that more emotionally evolved people,
who could make so much of their adult life, are getting
strangled ... something regressing adults who are
sacrificing them, are at some level pleased by.
Anyway, that's a couple long posts from me today, so
I'll leave it at that.
Patrick

dr.bobstern

Feb 11

"Cognitive dissonance can set in when some strict,
rigid parenting sets up a worldview in the children that
does not match reality."
Same could probably be said about childrearing that
goes to the other extreme. That is, children who
expect to automatically be rewarded by the world

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consistent with the training nexus they experienced as
young'uns: they got "self-esteem" trophies for merely
breathing.
Some "privileged" kids -- with all those choices and
resources -- can become famously dysfunctional.
I've also noticed that some children who were raised
in less rigidly religious homes have gone on to
become far more rigid and "observant" adults than
their parents.
Are any of the observations about childrearing
outcomes in relation to terrorism -- especially crossculturally -- borne out by any controlled statistical
studies?
Bob
—————

Alice Maher

176

Feb 4

Do psychohistorians have anything to offer as the
world struggles to understand recent events? (Yes!!)
Can we put the emergence and behavior of ISIS in
historical and psychodynamic contexts in a way that
offers new insights and has the potential to be
useful?
If we can come together and do that, perhaps Clio or
representatives of the IPA could write an article for a
major publication….?

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 11

Hey Alice, have you read DeMause's thoughts on the
subject: http://psychohistory.com/books/theemotional-life-of-nations/chapter-3-the-childhoodorigins-of-terrorism/

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DeMause would see ISIS as just another example of
a people who've had it with societal growth. Not a
geopolitical phenomena, but a childrearing one,
where people who were rejected early by their
unloved, immature caretakers, people who
understood early that self-growth/attendance is bad
and sinful, no longer can handle their own
individuation and so re-bond to a maternal entity and
go to war against people they've projected all of their
own "bad" aspects into.
In his view, ISIS is just another way in which growth is
meant to be dampened -- the most prominent and
relevant today is austerity economics, which
collectively (though note: not the well-raised, richly
loved ones) people want because at some level they
know it lays waste to previous prosperity and crushes
"sinful" opportunity ... it forestalls greater disaster, like
absolute maternal rejection.
Patrick
—————

Molly Castelloe

Feb 14

178

Speaking of "un-nurtured mothers" and the effect of
childrearing on history, here's a thought experiment about
how to talk to a toddler about racial stereotypes:
http://www.raceconscious.org/2015/01/stereotypes/

Alice Maher

Feb 14

Molly, I think this is a fascinating thought experiment.
On the one hand, I agree that it's important to teach
children not to stereotype, but whether that can be
done in language is another question. Sometimes
overemphasis can come across as protesting too
much and call the child's attention to something that
might not have entered their consciousness at all.
(Why is mommy making me think about black and
white when I'm thinking about how cool that bus is?)
Another issue has to do with... and here I'm taking this
in a somewhat different direction.... the sanitizing of
fairy tales and other children's stories. Children have

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very powerful, scary fantasies of sex and aggression,
and if the message they get is that those things are
bad to think about, they might conclude that their
oedipal wishes are also bad. In the good old days,
fairy tale parents abandoned their children in the
woods and the children pushed them in the oven in
revenge. Do those kinds of stories make children feel
that violence is acceptable, or do they communicate
that fantasy is acceptable but reality isn't, and help the
child understand the differences?

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 14

I don't understand, Molly. Are you posting this
because unloved, un-nurtured mothers raise children
who will project their own "badness" onto other
people, and think that perhaps one way to alleviate
this is to teach them about stereotypes? Or are you
posting this because talking about un-nurtured
mothers is itself surely the result of being under the
influence of stereotypes, which must be educated
away? If the latter, then what someone like DeMause
(and everyone who agrees with him) needs is

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massive re-education, not a place at the
psychohistorical table.
—————

Brian

Feb 14

The fact that infant care in our society is assigned
almost exclusively to females means that the deepest
and most unconscious introjects of both sexes are
female. It also means that when adults of both sexes
project this infantile material, it is onto women that we
project it. Note that all this operates independently of
the quality of parenting, which has been Lloyd
deMause's focus. Dorothy Dinerstein and Nancy
Chodorow did explore the abovementioned gender
asymmetry, and its implications for sex stereotyping.
Concern with the quality of parenting and concern
with sex stereotyping are not mutually exclusive.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTEto females
DROID

181

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 14

The fact that infant care in our society is assigned
almost exclusively to females means that the deepest
and most unconscious introjects of both sexes are
female.
Just noting, for anyone who isn't aware of his
theories, that this too — however true it may be —
isn’t DeMausian. In his discussion of the denial of
psychology in the study of society, within chapter five
of "Emotional Life of Nations," DeMause writes:
Ever since Kroeber launched cultural determinism as
the central anthropological theory early in the
century,9 tautological explanations have dominated
the social sciences as is apparent in Lowie’s claim
that culture is “a thing sui generis, the formula being
omnia cultura ex cultura.” That this tautological
circularity has made anthropological evolutionary
theory sterile is slowly becoming evident. In fact,
according to Tooby and Cosmides, the Standard

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Social Science Model of cultural determinism has
recently collapsed. This model, they say, states that
“the cultural and social elements that mold the
individual precede the individual and are external to
the individual. The mind did not create them; they
created the mind,” a theory that turns out, they say, to
explain nothing
In DeMause’s view (and of course my own), cultures
where you see women spend most of the time with
children are ones where the women badly needed
their children to make up for love denied them
elsewhere — as stimulants and anti-depressants —
and where men have not much interest in, are afraid
of, their wives and the maternal home, and are far
more interested in playing war at work than kneading
playdough with their kids.
In the DeMausian view, as women become more
emotionally healthy, through the central evolutionary
mechanism of improved love over generations
through the funnel of the mother-daughter dyad, as
they come to have less of a need to use their children
and become more genuinely nurturant with them, you
get boys who grow up, not only better nurtured but
less afraid of women, and much more insistent on
helping out — not a chore, but an opportunity!
You get enough of these types of people together,
you’ve got a society which doesn’t assign the role of
childrearing to anyone, but rather beams of the love

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that happens when most of the parents are
emotionally mature enough to delight in their journeys
with their beloved children. If evolved people are
surrounded by people who think differently, they’ll
superimpose their own natural way of wanting to exist
as a family over whatever looks to be forced on them,
like Jews amongst more regressive Germans in
19th/20th century Germany.
-- Patrick
—————-

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 12

If we are in one of those historical stages DeMause
writes about where collectively the majority no longer
had the childhoods to sustain further progress, where
overall society will lose its cosmopolitan aspects and
become provincial, we should see more and more of
us talking about how we're hearing voices in our
heads, voices -- those of our internal parental (i.e.
maternal) persecutors -- telling us to sabotage or kill
those who represent mother-neglecters ... aka the

184

spoiled, the self-centred, the selfish.
Kanye West stepped up on stage once again during
these Grammy's to once again protest someone's
winning over his Beyonce -- the Queen Bee. In
DeMausian estimation, he's the good boy, acquiring
love and respect from his mother that he in fact may
have never received in real life, by serving as her
loyal protector, by abdicating himself within/to Her.
Link about this at Jezebel
Elsewhere, Joan Walsh at Salon.com noted how
Jonathan Chait's well-read defence of white
progressive women from POC (people of colour) at
NYMagazine was done out of a strong feeling of
coming to their defence, out of chivalry. She thought it
was insulting to women ... as if they couldn't speak up
for themselves. But if this is another instance of this
DeMausian phenomena, where even many liberals
now are rejecting their autonomous selves, it's not so
much foul for taking over another's voice but for
becoming completely party to someone else's -- the
maternal internal persecutor within our heads ...
contained, according to DeMause, in the right
hemisphere, of all those of mothers who were denied
respect and love.
Is there anything more important to our time now than
an appreciation of the phenomena of growth panic?

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-- Patrick

Brian

Feb 12

Welcome to the listserv, Patrick. I consider myself a
kind of neo-deMausian and have some problems with
Lloyd’s ideas as he originally stated them. I am
especially skeptical of applications of his ideas to
public events with insufficient attention to the
institutional realities that provide the stable and long
term context in which group fantasies operate. If the
US is in the grip of a growth panic, it’s news to me.
Stock prices are booming, but this has little to do with
the real economy, which is technically in a recovery
but in which very little real prosperity is trickling down
to ordinary people. The unemployment rate is lower
now than in the Great Recession largely because the
labor force participation rate is depressed, a measure
of people leaving the work force because they don’t
think they will ever find work. A person is counted as
“employed” if they have a part time, minimum wage
job, and many people need to cobble together two or

186

more such jobs to earn a living and still are having
trouble making ends meet, especially with rising food
costs (see Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed for
a realistic picture of what it is like living on the
minimum wage.) Wage growth remains stagnant or
sluggish at best.
If there is a growth panic group fantasy, it is surely not
the fantasy of the majority of Americans, but most
likely of the upwardly mobile minority who are
prospering in this economy and especially of the
political and media elites who a pumping the mass
public full of messages about how well everything is
going, messages that no doubt confuse people, or
make them cynical about how out of touch the elites
are, but which surely cannot eradicate the reality of
their daily lives, which are filled with economic
insecurity and disillusionment about the American
Dream. I have written about all this in my book The
Middle Class Fights Back: How Progressive
Movements Can Restore Democracy in America
(Praeger 2012). http://middleclassfightsback.org/
Brian

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

187

Feb 12

If there is a growth panic group fantasy, it is surely not
the fantasy of the majority of Americans
Why not? If one is a DeMausian, the Great
Depression owed to the majority's growth panic -they wanted it to kill the 20s opportunities and growth.
This we've done to a great extent, but nevertheless
progressives are succeeding in other ways ... it's
harder than it was to get away with sexism,
homophobia, etc. Society is ceasing to be a place that
will "handle" needs you need to detach yourself from,
so you can go on with your everyday life.
The rich may not be feeling any growth panic: they
may at some level understand that their
independence as human beings is being
shortchanged, as they play the role of the dismissive
parent, the rest of the populace will suffer through but
try not to complain too much about.
Patrick

Brian

188

Feb 12
RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in
my head"
Before we can assess what a group fantasy might be,
we need some minimal grasp of reality in order to be
able to assess what is fantasy and what is reality. If
you are in the middle of a housing bubble and you
think you are in a period of economic growth and
prosperity for ordinary people, you are living in a
fantasy for sure, but not the kind deMause posited.
The bubble will not be able to sustain itself because
asset prices must eventually come into line with the
underlying value of the assets and increasing debt in
unsustainable. Reality exists and exerts its effects
independently of our fantasies.
The physical world is a reality that exists
independently of individual and group fantasies. If
you don’t believe me, try jumping from the top of a tall
building with the fantasy that you can fly. Similarly,
real median compensation (wages and benefits
corrected for inflation) have been mostly stagnant in
the United States since around 1974, a departure
from previous decades due to deindustrialization and
capital flight. Rising levels of consumption were
sustained by increasing consumer debt, an inherently
unstable state of affairs that had to come to an end

189

eventually and did, once in the late 80’s and again
with the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008-2009.
No correction of the underlying problem—which would
require a more egalitarian distribution of property and
income—has occurred and so whatever economic
growth is occurring now is also unstable. There could
not have been a growth panic in recent decades
because there was no economic growth for the
average American except a growth of debt. If there
was a group fantasy, it was the fantasy that people
could enjoy a rising standard of living even as their
wages and benefits were leveling off and they were
going deeper into debt. The values of their houses
were increasing, but it was a bubble and after 2008
many found themselves under water with their
mortgages. This is reality no less than the description
of the law of gravity.
There are solutions to this crisis of advanced
capitalism but they require institutional and policy
reforms; wishful thinking will not do. I have
elaborated this analysis and these solutions, including
worker ownership and control of enterprises and a
Green New Deal, in my book.
http://middleclassfightsback.org/ I believe that mass
psychology matters and that group fantasies play a
role in politics, but Lloyd’s theory of growth panic does
not correspond to the economic facts as I understand
them. This is my second post for today and most
likely my last; other responsibilities beckon.

190

Brian

Joel Markowitz

Feb 12
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my
head"
To repeat again: I agree with Brian that deMause
excellently documented child-abuse-- but that his
applications of his understanding of child-abuse to
history have been mistaken.
Joel

Brian

Feb 12
RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in

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my head"
Joel, just to clarify, I was not critiquing de Mause’s
theory about the impact of child-rearing on history but
only his theory that growth panic can explain group
fantasies of the mass public. I should add that when
the rich and political elites impose austerity policies
on the middle class and the poor, growth panic can’t
explain that behavior either. If they were imposing the
austerity on themselves, the theory might make
sense, but not as an explanation for imposing
austerity on others. That has a very simple
explanation—the rich feel entitled to appropriate the
wealth that others produce and see progressive
taxation as a kind of theft, so they want to starve the
public sector so they can keep their own taxes to a
minimum. This is just class war, pure and simple.
There are unconscious motivations involved in
austerity policies, to be sure, but I don’t see how grow
panic can be one of them.
As for child rearing practices, I would say that
DeMause was mistaken that it provides a sufficient
determinism for explaining all change in history, which
he called his “psychogenic theory of history,” but I
think there is some truth to this theory and I don’t
want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, which
you seem prepared to do. It is plausible to me that
much of the decrease in violence over the course of
history, as discussed by Stephen Pinker, John
Mueller, James Payne and others is attributable to

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advances in child rearing. We discussed Lloyd’s
psychogenic theory on this list and the current issue
of Psychohistory News (attached) contains an article
that gives excerpts from this discussion. The article,
entitled “How Much Does Child Rearing Really Impact
History,” appears on page one of the attached. I know
you don’t find my arguments convincing, Joel, and I
don’t find your Oedipal theory of history convincing
either, at least as a single factor that explains
everything or the vast bulk of what needs to be
explained. We will just have to agree to disagree.

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 13

There could not have been a growth panic in recent
decades because there was no economic growth for
the average American except a growth of debt.
It's true, a lot of Americans, a lot of Americans of
poorer childrearing, have not just seen their income
remain stagnant, but have had their hopes for the
future effectively squashed. But America grows

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anyway ... in ways that affect them. Unlike the 70s,
you can't get away as easily being a racist, being
sexist, being a homophobe. You can't get away as
easily resting content in your past-times ... if you like
football, you're going to start hearing that it needs to
be shut down because it's a brain-damaging, barbaric
sport, you're going to have a sense that it's future,
ultimately, is no longer inevitable; if you like video
games, you're losing the protection of it being a
"geek" pastime -- something people who proved
eventual winners engaged in -- as it is now repeatedly
criticized for its sexist representations of women -- i.e.
"gamer gate."
All around you, the people you used to be able to
casually hurt ... are being protected, and the societal
force that would do that is progressive: at some level
it's still for encouraging possibility in human life, even
if not especially yours. So too news of marijuana
legalization, gay marriage, news of increasing
minimum wages in cities, news of healthcare slowly
becoming available to all Americans, news that the
stifling and joy-killing "teaching to the test" as the
nation's overall favoured teaching pedagogy is
increasingly under attack ... there's a sense, even,
that overall wages might even start going up (and
perhaps too, debt forgiveness? -- I've seen more
discussion of it), and again under progressive
leadership -- one that scolds rather than finds virtue in
its most regressive citizenry.

194

What has not yet been lost about this post-world war
two world is the sense that the purpose of life is still
self-realization -- what Obama did -- not to "selflessly"
sacrifice yourself into some dumb group identity,
some cause, some fight, so perhaps some generation
down the line can enjoy the pleasures you're denying
yourself.
But DeMause argued that Germans eventually turned
against the freedom-enabling Weimar republic, his
focus wasn't on the working class but more the middle
classes -- those of them who for a good while made
something of the freedom ... The growth panic I guess
I'm concerned about most, isn't what those who "are
beholden" to Fox News are favouring, but those who
actually for a good while had good-enough
childrearing to be able to cheer and support Obama. If
they begin to understand that progress isn't being
countered by an increase in misery somewhere -- that
some sacrifices aren't being made to the maternal
maw -- they'll begin to feel that they themselves are
vulnerable to some sort of apocalyptic punishment.
I'm not really looking forward to a day when the
middle class fights back. I do not trust that their "fight
back" won't be something along the lines of 30s
Germany, quite frankly. I want a cosmopolitan society
where progressives ("coastals") keep insisting the rest
of the country adjust ... and since places like San
Francisco, Seattle, New York are now not just
concerning themselves with such things as

195

environmental reforms but reforms in wage and
worker protections (eg. increased minimum wage to
15 dollars an hours; retail worker rights (in San
Francisco)), this will mean their being expected to see
great promise in the framework we're already working
within, rather than insisting on something completely
outside (as Chris Hedges advocates, or, rather, sees
as the only means by which reform can be effected),
something angry and punitive ... something revengeseeking.
-- Patrick

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 13

Also, Brain, I read the newsletter you posted. This bit
-- My theory is that in a large majority of cases the
person idealizes the punitive father, while internalizing
the father’s contempt for weakness and dependency,
which is associated with the nurturing mother -suggests that you're not Neo-DeMausian but antiDeMausian. To DeMause, those of regressive,

196

conservative Republican backgrounds would of had
un-nurtured mothers who used their children to satisfy
unmet needs. They don't come to hating the weak and
dependent owing to internalization -- admiration of
their fathers -- but because this was how they felt
when they were being abused by their mothers, this
was what a good part of their childhoods felt like -this who they mostly suspect they are and always will
be, and so disown!
Also they do it because when their mothers -- seeing
their children as rejecting them, deliberately, just like
their own mothers did -- abandon them/punish them
for their individuation, they try desperately to figure
out what it was they did or were that had earned this
apocalyptic occurrence. Since what they mostly were
weak and dependent, they conclude that being weak
and dependent is a very bad, a very wicked thing.
This is DeMause ... when it comes to those who aren't
of progressive families, the father is a marginal
influence and the unloved-and-therefore-incestuousnot-nurturing mother ... is all. Talking about the strong
father is another way people of these backgrounds
can try and build him up so to imagine their own

197

mothers somehow thereby being dwarfed.
Admittedly, DeMause does this in his own work.
Despite the whole thing being about mothers, he
almost never mentions his own (though it's always
implicit, and he does once refer to her as
abandoning), and instead, most memorably, describes
his punitive, spanking father ("made
me disassociate and believe I was flying"... or
something like that) ... There have to be reasons why
DeMause, whose theories overtly favour a highly
progressive, a highly cooperative and nurturing and
socialist and feminist society, is cited by libertarians
and even National Organization for Men types.
-- Patrick

Brian

Feb 13
RE: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in

198

my head"
Patrick, if labelling me anti-deMausian makes sense
to you, so be it. For what it’s worth, Lloyd liked the
article of mine referenced in the newsletter and
published it in the Journal of Psychohistory 39, 3
(Winter 2012). To my knowledge he has never
published anything anti-deMausian. I republished it
with his permission as an appendix to my book. In
any case, I am not anxious to pass a litmus test of
any kind; the only standards of quality that I recognize
are those of the scientific method. De Mause has
always claimed that his theories are scientific and as
such they need to pass the test of empirical validation
or they should be discarded. In my article, I cite the
evidence on which my theory of political attitudes is
based and note the need for more empirical work in
this area; I argue that this is consistent with the
essence of Lloyd’s psychogenic theory of history, but
not necessarily in the form he conceived of it. If you
want to read the article, here is the link:
http://middleclassfightsback.org/resources/Psycholog
y%20of%20the%20Radical%20Right.pdf
I find it interesting that for you the notion of the
American middle class fighting back conjures up
fantasies about Nazi Germany and “something angry
and punitive ... something revenge-seeking.” Angry,
yes, but why fascist, punitive, and revenge seeking?
As far as I know, the human fight-flight response—the
basis of both anger and fear—is an instinctive

199

capability that has served us very well over our
several million years as a species. Anger is a healthy
response to any threat to the integrity of human
beings, whether physical or other. Sometimes fear is
also appropriate, but only anger can motivate the kind
of political action needed to avert imminent
catastrophe on this planet.
Predatory investors and CEOs representing a
miniscule fraction of the earth’s population are
maintaining, with the unwitting cooperation of the
majority, a political/economic system that perpetuates
global poverty, war, and ecological degradation. If the
majority of people don’t get angry at this system and
take appropriate political action, public affairs on this
planet are in big trouble. It was militant political action
of this sort during the populist movement that brought
about the reforms of the Progressive Era, enraged
people in the streets who formed the social base of
Roosevelt’s New Deal, and angry women and men
who fought for racial equality, an end to the Vietnam
War, women’s and gay rights, environmental
protection, and more.
Of course anger is not enough and misdirected anger
can certainly be destructive. But the anger exists
quite apart from anything I do or fail to do, and it is
already being misdirected to myriad scapegoats, from
religious and racial minorities, to gays, to union
officials and unionized workers. I wrote The Middle
Class Fights Back to focus popular anger where it

200

belongs and can do the most good—on a state
capitalist system that concentrates wealth and power
at the expense of ordinary people and indeed of the
earth’s ecology, on which a humane and sustainable
future depends. Most importantly, I provided a policy
agenda that can actually create such a future, which
provides a coherent direction for progressive
movements. This policy agenda is encapsulated in 7
one-minute pod casts at:
http://middleclassfightsback.org/new-book.php
Brian

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 14
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my
head"
If populism is not so much what it was in the 60s,
which according to the DeMausian take was a period
where the populace felt they were permitted growth, a
period which allowed the most progressive of them to
take the societal lead, but more like it was in the
(1920s-regretting) 30s, then it's worth getting

201

concerned about. In the DeMausian view, the 30s was
a period where populism amounted to people
abandoning their individuated selves and bonding into
maternal groups -- the volk, nationalism -- and the
target, the enemy, wasn't just CEOs, but more those
who best represented our "guilty" individuated selves.
These would be the most liberal, the most progressive
amongst us ... in Germany, it was the Jews. I see a
future where wonderful people like Alfie Kohn, who
believes children shouldn't be afflicted with
homework, and that there is no such thing as a
spoiled child, will be seen as enemies -- you don't
think we're all spoiled rotten, gluttonous people! look
around you!!! I see a future where those trying to depollute our environment of stereotypes, encourage
empathy, will be seen as having allowed our nation to
be vulnerable to infiltration and attack, and be
deemed traitors.
The DeMausian take is to see revenge-seeking as
primarily revenge against early childhood
humiliations, against one's mother. In the DeMausian
take, if society is exploitive ... this is actually what the
populace wanted -- for example a hard-money,
austerity environment is one way a populace
punishes itself for previous growth. If we're in the
revenge-seeking mood, a la DeMause, then we'll split
our mother into one wholly good, which we'll bond to,
and wage war against the other.
I'm glad you're open to the idea of "predatory CEOs

202

and unwitting cooperation of the majority" is not just
reality but something that requires proof. I myself
subscribe to the DeMausian thesis that the majority
may unconsciously cooperate, but never unwittingly,
and that predatory CEOS have only the power we
want them to have -- such is the pleasure we can
derive from suffering.
You're aware of the DeMausian take on fight-flight. He
talks about it differently ... in conjunction with
individuation panic and flight away from internal
reality. Most certainly not as benign, nor (thank god!)
universal.
The argument that we're inevitably doomed if we don't
get angry and fight is not DeMausian. In his view,
what primarily ends a period of suffering is the simple
fact of the majority deciding that they've done enough
penance for previous growth, and now will once again
allow themselves more good. I know that a lot of good
people agree with your point of view, but it's not
DeMausian.
If your take is right, if your take is what psychohistory
has to offer, it doesn't seem so urgent to me that more
people study it -- for isn't it in its essence mostly
already be carried out in thought today? Evil CEOS,
virtuous public, problematic stern fathers, righteous
fights, universal human drives ... not much shaking up
there.

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-- Patrick

Trevor Pederson

Feb 14
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my
head"
Hi Patrick
Can you say a little more about what you mean by
"our nation”?

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 14
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: Kanye West ... "voices in my
head"

204

Hello Trevor, I think I've been kindly warned via
private post not to post too much, but it must be okay
to respond to your question. By "nation," I mean group
... and by group, in this context, I mean our mothers,
our girth of our mothers, which we in our feeling
abandoned, are pleased to have found means to be
allowed to count ourselves within ... knights to
wherever She would issue us.
-- Patrick
—————

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 14

DeMause argues that when people collectively feel
abandoned by their internal parental (maternal)
persecutors, who've had it with all their growth, they
will begin to re-bond with her in some kind of group -the German Volk being an example of this. He argues
they will split their understanding of her, bonding only
with her "good" aspects and dispatching the rest onto
some "other" -- during the Iraq war, he points out how
Saddam Hussein was depicted in cartoons as a

205

demon-mother who tortured kids.
With this in mind, I would like to encourage list
members to take a look at the new Sports Illustrated
swimsuit edition, just out on the newsstands ... does it
suggest that people are preparing themselves for this
kind of re-bonding, are feeling (especially) drawn to
experiment with splitting the feminine? Take a good
look at the cover, then flip the magazine over and
explore the other side. Sports Illustrated, of course, is
not a magazine that our most emotionally evolved,
our most progressive citizens, exactly covet
reading ... it's a good mag to look at to explore what's
appealing, now, to those down a notch ... unless of
course one believes that corporations engineer the
mental states of consumers, then it provides just
another example of their vile twistedness.
--- Patrick

Brian

Feb 14

Yes, only a left wing ideologue would think that

206

corporations engineer the mental states of
consumers. Any fool knows that they spend hundreds
of billions of dollars on advertising every year as a
public service.

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 14

Exactly, they do ... what bizarre needs the public must
have! So different from common lore/sense -someone ought to address them!
-- Patrick

Trevor Pederson

Feb 14

Has everyone seen the Century of the Self and how

207

psychoanalysis was involved in modern advertising?
https://vimeo.com/85948693

david

Feb 14

Thank you Trevor for posting this link. It’s one episode of a
BBC production in 2002. It’s just under an hour, quite well
done and worth watching. It shows how both Brian and
Patrick are correct.
—————-

Alice Maher

Feb 15

As we all know, history is important. The history of

208

Catholicism and Freudianism is in my bones.
In contrast, given that I never read Lloyd De Mause or
participated in discussions of his model, my
knowledge of the history of the IPA and the evolution
of psychohistory is full of holes. I've been very
interested in the different interpretations of his model
presented by members of this group, but since I don't
have a foundation I find it hard to respond.
Does anyone have a respected, accurate summary
article, written by or about him, that I could read? Or
perhaps we could read and discuss together?
(Forgive me if this question has been posted before.
I'm sure it was, but it was probably at a time when I
was too busy or less interested.)
Thanks!
Alice

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 15

209

Hi Alice. I wonder if chapter 5 in his "Emotional Life of
Nations," might be the place to go. It is longish, but a
good quaff of what he thinks.
-- Patrick

Alice Maher

Feb 15
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: De Mause summary
article...?
Thanks so much, Patrick! I'm looking forward to
reading it.
Sent from my iPhone
—————

Molly Castelloe

Feb 15

210

Patrick,
In response to your question, I sent the story of the mother
trying to teach the child about steroetypes because I felt we
were discussing the un-nurtured mother and childrearing at
an intellectual distance (maybe a steroetyped way, too?)
and wanted to move toward another (more emotional)
dimension, and get closer to the mother-child dynamic.
Many mothers in my neighborhood are trying to "reeducate" their children in just this way. What I find with
my own kids, 8 and 10, is that it can at times be very hard
to put myself in their world and perspective.
Who remembers it can be hard for a child to sit still at the
dinner table and maybe 5 mins is enough to expect? Or
that if their feet don't touch the floor b/c the chair is too tall,
maybe they need a footstool underneath to help them keep
still or more grounded?
Some of DeMause's theories blame the mother/nanny too
much, it seems to me. The nuclear family and modes of
caretaking have changed radically. There are many more
fathers involved and women working at home, too.
I like Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's idea of "alloparenting" and the
development of children dependent on both mothers and an
array of others: fathers, babysitting coops, tag-teaming that
mothers do, playdates, people in addition to the biological
mother. (Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of
Mutual Understanding, (2011).

211

Alloparenting is contrasted with "exclusive care," (rearing
by only one caregiver).
This kind of caregiving assistance from the father or others
is beneficial for maternal emotional fitness. It also reflects
the mother's trust in her environment, or, on the other hand,
her reluctance and anxiety to allow anyone else to care for
her child and her distrust of her surrounds.
Thanks for your contributions to the list.
Molly

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 15

Thanks for the response, Molly. For what it's worth, I
don't think there's any mother-blame in DeMause's
works, for there's no choice in the matter ... if a
woman is well-cared for, properly respected, she'll
raise loving children; if she was denied all that, she'll
use her children -- period. The ability to choose
different, doesn't somehow squeak in there at all.
There is actually no one available to point fingers at in

212

DeMause's works. Basically, he's saying we started
off as a species some several hundred thousand
years ago, where children got care only because of
how they stimulated the mother ... love hadn't entered
the picture at all. Since then, we've had a lot of work
to to, but some of us are now finally getting it right.
The only thing to possibly blame, that is, is the
wretched start evolution granted us with.
Alloparenting sounds genius. They key, though, is
how emotionally evolved these multi-parents are ...
one single mother, working alone with her children, is
vastly better than her-and-support group, if she's
more emotionally evolved than they are. DeMause
talks about the dangers of extended families, where
grandmothers intrude on their daughters' care of their
children, to the ill of the children. But, yes, I get the
gist of what you prefer, and I agree ... I like the idea of
the state getting involved and helping people raise
their children as well -- sending in parent-assistants.
-- Patrick
P.S. I'm very glad you're enjoying my contributions.
—————

Brian

213

Feb 15

Alice, your question about deMause is a good one.
Maybe Patrick, Denis O’Keefe, David Lotto or
someone else can suggest something. My familiarity
with Lloyd’s work is based mostly on Foundations of
Psychohistory, which I don’t think contains a concise
statement of his ideas.
I have some further thoughts about Century of the
Self. Although the filmmaker in telling the Edward
Bernays story frames it as an application of
psychoanalysis to propaganda, I wonder if this is
really valid? It seem to me that Bernays’ thinking was
really behaviorist, and in fact the Wikipedia article on
him said that he also drew on Pavlov. We didn’t need
Freud to know that sex is pleasurable, and
fundamentally what Bernays did, it seems to me was
to use sex to sell products and ideas. Isn’t this just an
application of Pavlov’s psychology on humans using
mass communications? You want people to buy
something, so you create an association in their
minds between the product and a sexy woman. Or
you want people to reject communism, so you
associate it with something that causes fear. It seems
that Bernays built his whole career on cranking this
Pavlovian paradigm with business and political
leaders, and did so with indefatigable salesmanship.

214

What is particularly Freudian about this?

drwargus

Feb 15
Re: [cliospsyche] RE: psychoanalysis and social
control
I think the author believes it to be Freudian because
the desires our subconscious. He was appealing to
subconscious desires, not rational or conscious
desires.
Thank you very much for posting this restaurants. Do
you know where we could find the other three
episodes?

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 15

215

I agree, Brain -- Pavlov.
Dangerous idea, that -- a small group of corrupt
people are determining the entire behaviour of the
masses, for as we know that's what Germans thought
of the Jews. The left says this is what corporations are
doing, the right that this is what liberal people in
university (or liberal courts) are doing. Personally, I
think the reason this idea is taken for granted
amongst the left is suspect and worth exploring ... one
is allowed to try and make the life for better for
people, even if you acknowledge you find it hard to
actually like them much i.e., they needed to be goodhearted but sadly naive and uninformed.
Chris Hedges argues in "Death of the Liberal Class"
that (our current crop of) liberals are always
representing themselves as the populace's guardians,
but in fact find it/them disgusting, and enjoy thinking
of them as so playable. I don't like, don't trust,
Hedges, but I think this is true ... and why should they
like them? they've been regressing for 20 years now
and have become a Fox News crowd -- it's an honest
and astute assessment.
-- Patrick
P.S. I'm a DeMausian, which means I believe that
people, the masses, can actually at times want in
leaders who'll enact policies which will not just kill

216

other people but (during periods of atonement for
previous incurred growth) bring upon themselves a
Depression, make their own selves miserable. If you
believe this, which, again, I do, then the idea that
ultimately advertising is working at the bequest of the
public, that they don't engineer tastes but maybe only
put a bunch of stuff out there as trial balloons (the role
he also ascribes to newspaper headlines), which the
people will only latch onto if it matches their current
needs, seems readily plausible. This means
advertising is only effective if it plays to the needs of
people now, and advertisers -- however they like to
think of themselves -- are actually in sort of the
masochistic role, of urgently guessing what mood,
exactly, the finicky mass might be in today. If the
advertisers disappear, the public will find some way to
satisfy their developing needs, however inadequately
without their group delegates -- i.e., advertisers -having trod some options for them.
The power of authorities has little place in his works ...
for a very interesting example of this, explore his
exploration of Milgram's experiments, where he
concludes that people didn't inflict shocks because
they were manipulated or cowed, but because the
setting provided cover for them to guilt-free switch into
their persecutory selves, born out of unloved
childhoods. They used the university; they used the
experiments.
I'm lead now to think of Goldhagens' study "Hitler's

217

willing executioners." What I appreciated about it was
that it went at the idea that Germans had been
manipulated, played, and argued that, no, Germans
were the problem ... Hitler was incidental: there were
a million people who could have played out his groupdelegate role, without history changing one iota.

Brian

Feb 15
RE: [cliospsyche] RE: psychoanalysis and social
control
I believe the other episodes are available on
YouTube. They are entitled, The Engineering of
Consent, There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads,
and Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering.
Bill, Oedipal theory and all the rest of the Freudian
system address defense mechanisms and other
psychological processes that are unconscious for
most people. But it is common knowledge that sex is
pleasurable and that is all Bernays needed to know in
order to condition behavior on Pavlovian principles.
People may be unconscious that they are being

218

manipulated, but that is not the same as repression in
the Freudian sense. What seems new in Bernays’
work is to use the infrastructure of mass
communications to control with a behaviorist agenda
the images and information to which millions of
people are exposed. It seems to me that it works on
Pavlovian principles and doesn’t utilize anything that
is specifically Freudian.
Patrick, thanks for suggesting Chapter 5 of
DeMause’s Emotional Life of Nations. I will read this
with great interest, as soon as I can carve out a few
hours on my agenda. At the moment, I am running
behind on a number of other projects that require my
attention.
Brian

Dcarveth

Feb 15
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
Patrick, this echoes the difference between Freud's

219

and Bion's theories of group psychology. For Freud
the leader (compare the advertiser) dominates the
group; for Bion, if the leader doesn't lead the group
where the group wants to go, the group simply
chooses a new leader who will.
Best,
Don

Brian

Feb 15
RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
I want to address three issues that have come up
repeatedly on this list: the problem of what I call
“psychohistorical reductionism,” the alleged innate
destructiveness of people, and the class and
psychoclass specificity of group fantasies.
First, regarding reductionism, it is common for
theoretical innovators to over-emphasize the
explanatory power of their ideas, and Lloyd deMause

220

is no exception. In fact, in the passage Patrick
quoted, he went further and simply inverted the
“Standard Social Science Model of cultural
determinism,” replacing the claim of its adherents that
it explained everything with his own claim that it
explained nothing and that all historical phenomena
and change in history can be reduced to individual
psychology and group fantasies rooted in the
childhood experience of individuals. While I think
there is a lot of truth in deMause’s psychogenic theory
of history, stating it in this reductive way is misguided
and if this is psychohistory, then mainstream
academics are entirely justified in rejecting it.
I can illustrate the issue here with an analogy.
Superstring theorists in physicists claim to have a
“theory of everything” because they have identified a
unified field of all the laws of physics. But although all
of nature is physical, not all of it can be reduced to the
phenomena that exist at atomic and lower levels of
simplicity. In reality, biology requires other laws of
nature, for example the laws of game theory and
other determinants of natural selection. These
biological laws must be consistent with the laws of
physics but are not mere extrapolations of the laws of
physics. The reason is that living systems, while
comprised of the same matter and energy as stars
and minerals, have properties and characteristics that
inanimate matter and energy do not possess. Biology
cannot be reduced to physics.

221

Similarly, social phenomena such as culture, systems
of production, and the state have properties that
cannot be reduced to the psychology of individuals.
For example, the production of goods and services is
an inherently social activity in which both capital and
labor are necessary constituents. Virtually every
individual has some relationship with the system of
production and their thought and behavior is
necessarily shaped to a large extent by their social
location. Hedge fund managers occupy a subculture
with a very different view of the world than public
school teachers, for example. The nature and
evolution of social systems is determined by laws and
a logic that operate only at that level of complexity
and not the level of individual psychology and
behavior.
For example, the accumulation of capital is something
that can only occur within a set of institutional
arrangements that individuals can conform to or resist
but cannot create or alter as individuals. These
arrangements can be altered by individuals acting in
groups, but when that occurs, new phenomena come
into play—for example, the way political parties
interact with interest groups and with the branches of
government—that cannot be understood as a simple
extension of the laws that govern the individual.
There is necessarily an interaction between individual
and group psychology, on the one hand, and the
institutional processes that occur in governments,
corporations, universities and so on.

222

Second, regarding innate destructiveness, the first
episode of Century of the Self depicted how Freud
and many others made sense of the savage
destructiveness of World War I, and after Freud of
World War II and Nazi Germany. The notion that
these things were the expression of deep and
universal destructive impulses does not survive the
most elementary kind of rational scrutiny. For
example, the overwhelming majority of soldiers who
enacted the bloody killing in the world wars did not do
so without coercion. They were drafted and faced
ostracism and imprisonment if they did not comply.
Then they were put under military discipline and faced
the threat of court-martial or worse for insubordination
or desertion. Thrust into such extreme circumstances
under duress, ordinary people did enact mass killing,
but this says nothing whatsoever about murderous
impulses of the individual or of group fantasies.
Indeed, if people were spontaneously murderous, why
would political leaders need to induce them coercively
to play the role of mass killers?
A similar thing occurred in Nazi Germany. The
National Socialists got more votes (44%) than any
other single party in the 1933 parliamentary elections,
but not a majority, and in fact socialists and
communists outnumbered fascists in the German
electorate. Moreover, the vote that the Nazis received
greatly overstated their actual support because this
was anything but a “free and fair” election, as we

223

would say today. In the wake of the Reichstag fire
and before the election, the German Communist Party
was suppressed and 4,000 communist leaders were
imprisoned. As in any totalitarian state, once in power
the Nazis enforced severe penalties for dissent, which
could include torture and death.
While a large segment of the German population was
no doubt swept up into the anti-Semitic and militaristic
fantasies cultivated by Nazi propaganda, there is also
no doubt that many resisted, mostly through the
socialist and communist underground. And for every
active member of the underground, there must have
been many more who sympathized but were not
willing to heroically risk torture and death to actively
participate. I wonder how many of us on this list
would have risked torture and death to resist Hitler.
Because there was no public opinion data inside Nazi
Germany, we don’t know how widespread the
opposition to the regime was, but given that socialists
and communists were nearly half of the electorate
before the Nazis came to power, this most likely was
a very large plurality of the population, if not a “silent
majority.” All of this is a far cry from Goldhagen’s
Hitler’s Willing Executioners, which depicts a
monolithic German group mind.
Third, and this follows from the foregoing analysis,
group fantasies are generally those of classes and
psychoclasses, not of entire nations. Psychoclasses,
for those not familiar with this term, are groups of

224

people who have similar personality characteristics
due to the experience of similar child rearing
practices. On this point, deMause is self-contradictory
because while he created the concept of
psychoclasses, he then proceeded to ignore his own
concept when talking about monolithic group
fantasies. In the first and second episodes of Century
of the Self, it is apparent that many business and
political elites were motivated by a group fantasy
about the masses of people having dangerous
impulses and being too irrational to participate in a
democracy. Not all elites thought this way, however,
and the film also showed how the New Deal
leadership and the inventors of scientific opinion
polling believed in the rationality of ordinary people
and believed that people could be educated about
public policy, which Roosevelt in fact did
systematically. While Hitler ruled through force and
intimidation, FDR was an immensely popular
president who was elected four times. This suggests
that when given a chance to freely choose their
leaders and to participate in government in a
meaningful way, ordinary people can in fact do so and
act in a much more rational way than the conservative
elites would have us think.
In summary, I think there is a lot of conventional
wisdom on this list that needs to be re-examined in
the light of reason and evidence.
Brian

225

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 16

HItler ruled through force and intimidation? Everyone
agree with this?
The distinction between FDR and Hitler is absolute?
Everyone agree with this? Hitler provided .... or,
rather, people made use of him to ensure they were
better provisioned as well. If the New Deal period was
so awesome, and showed how admirable everyday
Americans are, why are "progressives" during this
period given so much praise by someone like Chris
Hedges, who hates no one more than spoiled, selfattendant people -- catch his attack on 60s
progressives, the hippies, to get a measure of it. He
only wants to praise those who are self-abnegating,
self-sacrificial, which is a pretty demented state of
mind to me -- sort of anti-human. If it the New Deal
was so admirable, why does Morris Dickstein accuse
the whole period as nationalist, a period where people
admonished themselves by thinking of themselves
more as types, categories of people, rather than as
distinct individuals? If it was so awesome, why

226

through the whole period were they still mostly selflaceratingly blaming themselves for not succeeding,
rather than jumping hole-hog to a better era, like they
insisted for themselves in the 50s? Was anybody
interned?
Your future is entirely dependent on the amount of
love you received as a child. If you have issues
arising out of your childhood, but are in a very
progressive society, you'll try and use the existing
"arms" of the society and twist them towards your own
purposes (Alfie Kohn has just said argued that whatare-in-truth regressives are currently taking over/coopting progressive pedagogy, and making it somehow
pro-testing, pro-homework, for example). If you have
fewer issues than other people, but are living in a
regressive society, you'll become part of the
generation that invents something better to fit the
more benign world you believe humans deserve, or
you'll leave, and set up something better elsewhere
(DeMause believes that places like Japan and U.S.
were examples of places where we saw progressives
-- those of superior child-rearing -- migrate).
This, too me, is bang on ... so it doesn't feel right to
malign it by assessing it as "reductive." Is there
another word available? Distilled ... to its essential
essence? Let's try it. Mainstream academics are
justified in rejecting theories which are distilled .... no,
doesn't work. So let's try, Mainstream academics are
justified in rejecting theories which stick to the point

227

rather than stray elsewhere so we don't become guilty
bad children unswervingly pointing our fingers at our
surely selfless, long-suffering mothers.
DeMause talks a lot about group dynamics, what is
permitted when people engage in groups that it not
permissible at an individual level. The whole idea of
the social trance, for example. He doesn't let it
become a whole different, independent thing, like
biology compared with physics, because he believes
it co-operates with our need to make the social
sphere, what happens in society, something apart
from ourselves, something we can dismiss as not part
of individual me -- it gets rid of the guilt part, which
can get in the way of our enjoying hurting people. So
if a country wars, it's not your own private desire to
see people murdered which is being exercised. If
society makes people homeless, it is not your private
desire to have people feel your own neediness and
pain so that you don't have to feel it, which is being
enabled.
There is a sense that what happens at some times in
society is independent of your individual self -- or at
least part of it yourself. To DeMause, when we war on
other countries, or against women and children in our
own society, it is our right hemispheres which are in
charge -- the internal persecutors he says are
contained there. Our left is actually
ignorant/independent -- it's looking at the work of part
of him/her s/he isn't at the moment familiar with.

228

Brian, your whole bit about how soldiers are reluctant
to kill is a certainly not what DeMause argues -- he
says they are eager to rape and kill (there is a bit
about how training changed in Vietnam to get soldiers
more successful killers, but compared with the whole,
it's just a blip). Your view goes down easier ... by
viewing soldiers like this, one doesn't become the
affluent-born hippie taunting the lot of the working
class soldier -- baby killer!!! I feel pretty confident that
some here could refer to historians/scholars who
provide contrary accounts. If I was tasked with doing
this, I'd probably start with the references referred to
in DeMause's notations.
Your account of Germany ... well, it's intimidating to
read ... intimidating, because there could be ample
evidence existing now against your argument that
cocky Goldhagen had it completely wrong, but you
present yourself as if you've marshalled every dutiful
historian to your cause, who feel pretty confident they
can wipe out all the aberrant views that have been
popping up over the last few decades just by showing
up as an angry brotherhood. If this is the public mood,
if we want to live in a decade where we all agree that
the worst thing you can be is presumptuous, spoiled
and elder-defying, if we want ordinary folk to be good
but afflicted, for soldiers to be reluctant to kill, for us to
be innocent of the wrath we're about to inflict of the
world -- because who could possibly have had the
courage to resist it!!! -- it hardly feels like one should

229

bother. This is not a phalanx I would presume to want
to penetrate. Best bet is to see what young
progressives like Lena Dunham are doing, and see if
somehow DeMause can be smuggled in there.
I mean it, Lena Dunham ... read her book and catch
how she takes down/humiliates the elders in
Hollywood who tried to "help" her in Hollywood.
Here's someone who isn't afraid of looking like a
spoiled brat that some hardworking mechanic from
the 1950s would like nothing better than to take a
whipping to. We should be sure that even if we're put
in the unfortunate position of coming to see the kind
of everyday folk who voted for Nixon as fundamentally
decent people, we're still angling the unfortunate
results of our studies so that it might find some appeal
... there.
-- Patrick

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 16
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control

230

Thanks Don!

Trevor Pederson

Feb 16
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
Patrick, you write:
Your future is entirely dependent on the amount of
love you received as a child. If you have issues
arising out of your childhood, but are in a very
progressive society, you'll try and use the existing
"arms" of the society and twist them towards your own
purposes (Alfie Kohn has just said argued that whatare-in-truth regressives are currently taking over/coopting progressive pedagogy, and making it somehow
pro-testing, pro-homework, for example). If you have
fewer issues than other people, but are living in a
regressive society, you'll become part of the
generation that invents something better to fit the
more benign world you believe humans deserve, or
you'll leave, and set up something better elsewhere

231

(DeMause believes that places like Japan and U.S.
were examples of places where we saw progressives
-- those of superior child-rearing -- migrate).
This sounds a lot like Wilhelm Reich's genital
character who managed to escape childhood
development without the trauma and armoring to
become the superman which nature would produce if
unhindered.
I very much admire a lot of Reich's work but this view
shows more about how Reich had to egoistically
represent himself to others as perfect than as a
careful analysis of genius.
As Fairbairn, Freud, and others point out, it is the
schizoid types who have less of a connection to
others and more of a connection to their intellectual
functions (memory, phantasy, etc.) that become the
great intellectuals, scientists, and artists. Without this
increased libidinal connection to these intellectual
functions one can hardly hold together all the relevant
information of one's field, and take in the new relevant
empirical data to contribute to knowledge. In health
these types have a chance to become important
creators and innovators while in pathology they can
have very severe problems.
Your future isn't entirely dependent upon your
psychosexual character, it is also very much

232

dependent upon the class you are born into, the
access to good education, the crime or aggressive
elements that you must protect yourself and loved
ones from, the ideals of masculinity and femininity
that exist in your class, and many other class factors.
People on the right like to pretend that poor people
can simply just work hard and get out of the hell hole
they were raised in. They have a very simple view of
people as rational agents who choose to work hard or
choose not to and are therefore responsible for being
poor. In contrast, clinical experience points to the fact,
again and again, that there are only so many
narcissistic injuries and betrayals in love that a person
can experience before they shut down and regress.
When you have a schizoid who already feels like an
outsider and who doesn't have strong connections to
others and a violent neighborhood in which he is put
down for not being manly enough, put down for not
being successful with women, encouraged to
suppress the altruistic and caring parts of his
personalty so he doesn't have weaknesses that
others can exploit, etc. he will shut down. Neurosis,
mysticism, and criminality are the outcome for some,
but for others with post-ambivalent ties to culture,
identity becomes much more important. Identity is
based upon traditions and discourse and for many
years it has been taken to be the most important
determinant of an individual in the humanities. The
schizoid with post-ambivalent ties may take on the
ideal of masculinity in the area and become someone

233

who loves sports while never having played them and
memorize stats of the players to offer up to others in
conversations. He isn't close to others in an
emotionally significant way but he shares their
traditions and social ideals and interacts with them
through this.
Trevor

Brian

Feb 16
RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
Patrick, I have added my comments after yours.
From: clios...@googlegroups.com
[mailto:clios...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf
Of Patrick McEvoy-Halston
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 8:49 AM
To: clios...@googlegroups.com
Subject: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social

234

control
HItler ruled through force and intimidation? Everyone
agree with this?
I did not say that Hitler ruled ONLY through force and
intimidation. But if he had the universal support that
you seem to think, why did the Nazis need a secret
police to root out dissenters and need torture to
punish dissidents and why did they ban opposition
parties and democratic elections?
The distinction between FDR and Hitler is absolute?
Everyone agree with this? Hitler provided .... or,
rather, people made use of him to ensure they were
better provisioned as well. If the New Deal period was
so awesome, and showed how admirable everyday
Americans are, why are "progressives" during this
period given so much praise by someone like Chris
Hedges, who hates no one more than spoiled, selfattendant people -- catch his attack on 60s
progressives, the hippies, to get a measure of it. He
only wants to praise those who are self-abnegating,
self-sacrificial, which is a pretty demented state of
mind to me -- sort of anti-human. If it the New Deal
was so admirable, why does Morris Dickstein accuse
the whole period as nationalist, a period where people
admonished themselves by thinking of themselves
more as types, categories of people, rather than as
distinct individuals? If it was so awesome, why

235

through the whole period were they still mostly selflaceratingly blaming themselves for not succeeding,
rather than jumping hole-hog to a better era, like they
insisted for themselves in the 50s? Was anybody
interned?
I have no idea what you’re talking about. Are you
attacking the New Deal? Do you think we would have
been better off with four more years of Hoover?
Your future is entirely dependent on the amount of
love you received as a child. If you have issues
arising out of your childhood, but are in a very
progressive society, you'll try and use the existing
"arms" of the society and twist them towards your own
purposes (Alfie Kohn has just said argued that whatare-in-truth regressives are currently taking over/coopting progressive pedagogy, and making it somehow
pro-testing, pro-homework, for example). If you have
fewer issues than other people, but are living in a
regressive society, you'll become part of the
generation that invents something better to fit the
more benign world you believe humans deserve, or
you'll leave, and set up something better elsewhere
(DeMause believes that places like Japan and U.S.
were examples of places where we saw progressives
-- those of superior child-rearing -- migrate).
This, too me, is bang on ... so it doesn't feel right to
malign it by assessing it as "reductive." Is there
another word available? Distilled ... to its essential

236

essence? Let's try it. Mainstream academics are
justified in rejecting theories which are distilled .... no,
doesn't work. So let's try, Mainstream academics are
justified in rejecting theories which stick to the point
rather than stray elsewhere so we don't become guilty
bad children unswervingly pointing our fingers at our
surely selfless, long-suffering mothers.
I basically agree that the amount of love a person
receives as a child is decisive for their own happiness
and affects society as whole in important ways. That
is not what makes deMause reductive. Rather it is
the mentality that the society and history as a whole
can be understood entirely as a function of this one
factor. This ignores the fact that when individuals
interact in the context of institutions—workplaces
provide a familiar example—our choices are
constrained by the way the institutions function and all
of this needs to be studied in its own right.
Government is another example. The kind of choices
offered to voters are not a simple function of group
fantasies of the mass public but also reflect the
organization of institutional power, both within the
government, say in the Pentagon, and in important
interest groups, especially big corporations, and in the
plutocracy and the way money dominates the political
process.
DeMause talks a lot about group dynamics, what is
permitted when people engage in groups that it not
permissible at an individual level. The whole idea of

237

the social trance, for example. He doesn't let it
become a whole different, independent thing, like
biology compared with physics, because he believes
it co-operates with our need to make the social
sphere, what happens in society, something apart
from ourselves, something we can dismiss as not part
of individual me -- it gets rid of the guilt part, which
can get in the way of our enjoying hurting people. So
if a country wars, it's not your own private desire to
see people murdered which is being exercised. If
society makes people homeless, it is not your private
desire to have people feel your own neediness and
pain so that you don't have to feel it, which is being
enabled.
The process that deMause is talking about certainly
affects ideologies and these in turn legitimize power. I
have never disputed the importance of this, but it is
not the only source of ideology, which is also a
function of the power relations that are being
legitimized. In order to succeed, an ideology must (1)
resonate with unconscious motivations, and (2)
legitimize power. If (1) is not the case, it will not
engage the population. If (2) is not the case it will not
serve the purposes of the rulers and they will not
embrace and support it, which is a major reason that
ideologies persist. In my article Psychology of the
Radical Right I tried to show how group fantasies
rooted in individual experience underpin free market
and militarist ideologies that are perpetuated by
corporate and Pentagon elites because they serve

238

their purposes.
To reduce history and politics to psychological factors
is misguided and one of the main reasons that
psychohistory as DeMause defined it is not taken
seriously in academia. I don’t want to throw out the
baby with the bathwater (to use a deMausian
metaphor), but if we don’t outgrow the reductionism,
psychohistory will remain in an intellectual ghetto. I
can’t help but think that many of us like being in this
ghetto, where we can blame the marginalization of
psychohistory on everything but ourselves. I think
psychohistorians, not all of us but many of us, are
marginalizing ourselves and need to take
responsibility for that.
There is a sense that what happens at some times in
society is independent of your individual self -- or at
least part of it yourself. To DeMause, when we war on
other countries, or against women and children in our
own society, it is our right hemispheres which are in
charge -- the internal persecutors he says are
contained there. Our left is actually
ignorant/independent -- it's looking at the work of part
of him/her s/he isn't at the moment familiar with.
More reductionism. The physics and biology analogy
applies. Institutional processes give rise to levels of
complexity that need to be understood on their own
terms.

239

Brian, your whole bit about how soldiers are reluctant
to kill is a certainly not what DeMause argues -- he
says they are eager to rape and kill (there is a bit
about how training changed in Vietnam to get soldiers
more successful killers, but compared with the whole,
it's just a blip). Your view goes down easier ... by
viewing soldiers like this, one doesn't become the
affluent-born hippie taunting the lot of the working
class soldier -- baby killer!!! I feel pretty confident that
some here could refer to historians/scholars who
provide contrary accounts. If I was tasked with doing
this, I'd probably start with the references referred to
in DeMause's notations.
So if the masses of people want to rape and kill, why
do you need to draft them to fight in wars? Or in the
case of the current volunteer army, to provide middle
class livelihoods for people who have very few other
routes into the middle class. If people would rather
kill than flip burgers in Burger King, why pay soldiers
at all and why spend billions of dollars every year in
advertising and other recruiting activities? All the
killers should be lined up around the block at every
recruiting station for a chance to satisfy their deepest
desires in exchange for room and board.
Your account of Germany ... well, it's intimidating to
read ... intimidating, because there could be ample
evidence existing now against your argument that
cocky Goldhagen had it completely wrong, but you
present yourself as if you've marshalled every dutiful

240

historian to your cause, who feel pretty confident they
can wipe out all the aberrant views that have been
popping up over the last few decades just by showing
up as an angry brotherhood. If this is the public mood,
if we want to live in a decade where we all agree that
the worst thing you can be is presumptuous, spoiled
and elder-defying, if we want ordinary folk to be good
but afflicted, for soldiers to be reluctant to kill, for us to
be innocent of the wrath we're about to inflict of the
world -- because who could possibly have had the
courage to resist it!!! -- it hardly feels like one should
bother. This is not a phalanx I would presume to want
to penetrate. Best bet is to see what young
progressives like Lena Dunham are doing, and see if
somehow DeMause can be smuggled in there.
I have no idea what you’re talking about. I presented
facts about Nazi Germany that are not controversial,
but which are ignored by Goldhagen and others
because these facts do not fit their ideology.
I mean it, Lena Dunham ... read her book and catch
how she takes down/humiliates the elders in
Hollywood who tried to "help" her in Hollywood.
Here's someone who isn't afraid of looking like a
spoiled brat that some hardworking mechanic from
the 1950s would like nothing better than to take a
whipping to. We should be sure that even if we're put
in the unfortunate position of coming to see the kind
of everyday folk who voted for Nixon as fundamentally
decent people, we're still angling the unfortunate

241

results of our studies so that it might find some appeal
... there.
I have no idea what you are talking about. Can you
state your main idea without assuming that I already
know what you’re talking about?

PETSCH...@appstate.edu

Feb 16
Re: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and
social control
Amen, Brian.
In Berlin exactly a month ago I saw the von
Stauffenberg exhibition in the building in front of which
he was shot. I
was totally astonished at the amount of resistance to
the regime that is shown in this sizable presentation.
Graduate students and professors over the years
have ferreted out large and small groups from all
walks of life
who opposed the regime and who for the most part
were caught and killed. Jews, Poles, communists,
socialists,

242

Catholics, Protestants, liberals, conservatives,
military, etc. It is one of the finest, most up-date and
modern
exhibits I have seen so far. Most astonishing to me,
after studying this period for decades is Hitler's
uncanny ability
not to be killed by his own military.
Also support your point about deMause and
childrearing.
I hope snow does not bury you wherever you are on
the E. Coast.

Ralph Fishkin

Feb 16
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
I agree with Peter’s “review” of the van Stauffenberg
exhibition. I saw it 5 years ago. Very moving.
Ralph
- show quoted text =============================
Ralph E. Fishkin, D.O.

243

J. I. (Hans`) Bakker

Feb 17
Re: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and
social control
I would like to know more about the von
Stauffenberg Exhibition.
Do they have a web page? Is there an exhibit
catalogue.
This goes against some of the popular conceptions of
people being merely compliant.
Catholics, Protestants, Liberals, Conservatives,
military, etc., is a bit different from the usual scenario.
(Jews being strongly opposed at an early stage is
also a bit contrary to some narratives.)
I knew that actual Communists were opposed, of
course, and Poles would often have reasons two be

244

opposed.
At a used book store yesterday here in Albuquerque I
saw more than 100 books on fascism, the Nazi
regime, Hitler, etc.
But when I travel I always tend to buy more books
than I can possibly carry on the plane!
The Society for Cross Cultural Research (SCCR)
starts tomorrow morning, but there are all kinds of
meetings going on here.
The weather was cool, but like Spring in Boston!
Meanwhile the whole East Coast seems to have real
snow.
Cheers,
Hans

J. I. Bakker

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 17
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social

245

control
Hey Trevor, I think somewhere along the line I failed
to answer one of your questions -- sorry about that!
As Fairbairn, Freud, and others point out, it is the
schizoid types who have less of a connection to
others and more of a connection to their intellectual
functions (memory, phantasy, etc.) that become the
great intellectuals, scientists, and artists. Without this
increased libidinal connection to these intellectual
functions one can hardly hold together all the relevant
information of one's field, and take in the new relevant
empirical data to contribute to knowledge. In health
these types have a chance to become important
creators and innovators while in pathology they can
have very severe problems.
Okay, but the DeMausian take is different ... he talks
about being given the liberty to play by parents
(mothers) who were above the norm for the time. For
example,
It was the developmental new strengths of the
intrusive childrearing mode, not changes in “culture,”
that produced the dramatic historical innovations of
the Reformation, humanism and industrialism. For
instance, what allowed James Watt to invent the
modern steam engine was his parents’ teaching him

246

to read and allowing him to endlessly experiment with
the steam kettle for hours every day in his family
kitchen, changing the world by his curiousity
I think this is right ... and it sort of goes in the opposite
direction of "yours". Yours is about disconnect from
people, this view is that it is born out of increased
interaction between parent and child, owing to more
genuine interest in the child by the parent.
Your future isn't entirely dependent upon your
psychosexual character, it is also very much
dependent upon the class you are born into, the
access to good education, the crime or aggressive
elements that you must protect yourself and loved
ones from, the ideals of masculinity and femininity
that exist in your class, and many other class factors.
DeMause argues that the Jews in Germany were of a
superior psychoclass to the rest of the Germans -they loved their children more, and their children had
better self-esteem for it. It was this, primarily, which
allowed them to make something of what was offered
in their societal environment to become enfranchised,
despite resistances from the rest of the German
populace. The fact that they had better-loved parents
mean that they had parents who were more
comfortable with their individuating from them,

247

dissenting from them -- they didn't need them so
much to serve them, to give them the love they were
denied by their own parents. This means that freedom
was to them an opportunity, not something that could
lead you dangerously astray indeed.
What ultimately stopped even the huge power of their
not feeling guilt when they succeeded, was Germanic
regression -- when Germans could no longer handle
the opportunity-enfranchising Weimar 20s and
regressed provincial (back to mommy). On the
lookout for those who best represented the guilty
striving self who would dare individuating from
mommy, they targeted their most progressive citizens
-- the Jews.
Anyway, not psychosexual character, but the amount
of love you received as a child. DeMause would
explore whether people of a similar social class are
actually the same psychically/emotionally, if overall
their childrearing, the amount of love they give their
children, is around the same ... and this, mostly,
explaining their grouping into some kind of outward
social class. If not, if you are a child of parents who
are superior, you'll have to deal with what your
neighbours think of your not, for example, spanking
your kids, your "spoiling" them, but you won't be
possessed so much of parental alters (kind of like the
superego) informing you of how bad you are when
you succeed, that make you feel actually kind of good
when you remain content with your assigned lot.

248

The rightwing says it's all up to you ... and are
speaking mostly to the working classes (who mostly
possess, I believe, about the same level of
childrearing) ... those who at their core don't want a
society which enables them too much, who want
leaders to encourage them to turn on themselves so
they don't risk blaming those in society meant to
represent their terrifying parents. I don't want to enter
the power of their dark world; I'm thinking of the power
provided when you have the chance of grouping
together with those gifted with having received more
love ... if things get really bad, like with the Puritans in
Europe, it may yet be possible to Mayflower
yourselves over to America and start something better
there!
-- Patrick
P.S. Nice tree.

PETSCH...@appstate.edu

Feb 17
Re: RE: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and

249

social control
Hans,
Te following is about as good a description as I found.
Being there was one of
the more meaningful experiences in my long history
with the regime.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_to_the_German
_Resistance
By the way, the German/NATO HQ is in the same
complex; that is why the text next
to the photograph of the Museum Exhibits is so
important.
Peter

Trevor Pederson

Feb 17
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
Hi Patrick
There is a history in psychoanalysis of noting not
enough maternal care and too much are a bad thing

250

(which Winnicott summed up nicely in the 'good
enough' mother).
Nietzsche and others have talked about the
importance of 'reactive affects' in contrast to the 'will
to truth'. Instead of the ideal mother ideally raising the
child and that child going on to have a pure love or
pure interest in science or art, I think many
biographies will show that pride, envy, inferiority,
etc. and other reactive traits will be involved.
Narcissism is often needed to feel entitled to
introduce new views and ideas.
Things are complicated and having just one axis
concerning love is too simple.
Schizoid individuals often don't feel in home in their
bodies and body psychotherapists often point to how
they have thin, extremely tight bodies that show an
adaptation against being in their bodies/looking to
connect to the body of another. The coldness that one
can sometimes feel from them in projective
identification (i.e. when they assume the parental
imago and make you feel like they did) also indicates
the parental care involved. You can think you are right
but it's not the same as having evidence or reasons.
I can assure you that every patient I've worked
with who is assured of having had his mother's love
didn't get 'good enough' mothering and has
narcissistic issues.

251

If you do more reading in psychoanalytic theory and
compare and contrast the different schools you'll find
many conflicting views. You can just choose the view
that makes the most sense to you or the most popular
one and call it a day, but all individuation
and maturation comes from thinking against oneself
and giving some credit to the opposing viewpoints.
Trevor

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)

Feb 17
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control
Nietzsche and others have talked about the
importance of 'reactive affects' in contrast to the 'will
to truth'. Instead of the ideal mother ideally raising the
child and that child going on to have a pure love or
pure interest in science or art, I think many
biographies will show that pride, envy, inferiority,
etc. and other reactive traits will be involved.
Narcissism is often needed to feel entitled to

252

introduce new views and ideas.
I know all this. This was the take that I, that all of us,
grew up with. I in fact never heard that genius owed to
simply being loved, to allowance. I got "there" when I
understood just how wretched past childrearing was,
then when I learned of the appalling lives of many
geniuses I realized that at some level, many of them
could well still have had a better start than the
majority culture around them. Without the love, no
genius. With some of it, you could still get geniuses ...
but one's sadly afflicted with the problems you've
listed for us. If only they'd gotten more.
-- Patrick
Anyway, third post today. Thank you very much
people. I'll check in again tomorrow.

Trevor Pederson

Feb 17
Re: [cliospsyche] Re: psychoanalysis and social
control

253

Patrick, things are complicated and I keep sensing
that you want to make them simple. There's to much
"love," not enough, there's too much discipline, there's
not enough, etc. and also inheritance that selects for
certain impulses, projects, etc. that cause the fixations
without the parent acting out of the ordinary.
It's not always that a genius with more love would
have done better, it could be that his class or
environment caused too many ego injuries later in life.
If he or she had gotten more love then he or she
might not have formed character the way they did.
When you have someone with masochistic (echoistic)
character that doesn't like to be noticed by others,
then this inhibition could economically push them
towards artistic pursuits:
“Artists are people driven by the tension between the
desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”
(Winnicott)
If this person got more love and wasn't so afraid of
rejection then they wouldn't be as driven in their
pursuits. There are also many different routes to being
an artist and this isn't the problem of them all.
If there is no love from the caregiver the child would
be horribly affected, no one is disputing the
importance of love. However, having the most
conflicts and tensions in a person can produce very
good results or a very neurotic person.

254

Trevor

Sipping tea and polite manners while the
bombs go off: our necessary way forward
Jeffrey Taylor just wrote an article about our need to
stand up the march of human progress. Here is a good
sample of it, followed by my reply.
The relentless march of time generally affords
humankind, which happens to include folks in the
media, the chance to reflect on events and acquire
wisdom. But the weeks passing since the massacre in
Paris of the highly talented Charlie Hebdo cartoonists
for their depictions of the Prophet Muhammad have
only granted a good number of commentators the
opportunity to bedork themselves time and again, as
they pen columns and make on-air statements that
both spread confusion and betray commitments to
untenable, morally reprehensible extenuative
positions concerning Islam. This is tragic, for, if
anything, the slaughter of European artists exercising
their lawful right to self-expression in the capital of
their own country offered us all a “teachable
moment” sans pareil about the nature of the threat
lurking within – in fact, innate to — the “religion of
peace.”

255

Rarely have murderers so clearly manifested their
motive. With the exclamations they made as they
carried out their atrocity — “Allahu Akbar!” and
“On a vengé le prophète Mohamed, on a tué Charlie
Hebdo!” (The prophet Muhammad has been avenged,
we have killed Charlie Hebdo!) — the attackers
explicitly told us they were killing for Islam, and
imparted precisely the lesson they intended: Do not
insult or ridicule our faith or you will pay the
supreme price. They wrought violence against
innocents who dared transgress the commandments
of a religion they did not profess. What’s more, they
de facto succeeded in imposing sharia tenets well
beyond the confines of the Islamic world. How many
major publications or networks dared even publish
the anodyne drawing of a teary-eyed, forgiving
Muhammad that graced the cover of the postmassacre issue of Charlie Hebdo, to say nothing of
the other images satirizing the Prophet that
presumably led to the fire-bombing of the magazine’s
office in 2011? That so many Western media outlets
shied away from doing so is more than scandalous. It
unambiguously signals one thing: terrorism works.
More lives are likely to be lost as a result.

256


What to make of Western leaders’ reluctance to indict
Islam in the Charlie Hebdo massacre? Cowardice
must be involved — better to deride a few bad apples
“perverting a great religion” than risk angering large,
and growing, Muslim communities at home, or
inciting attacks against embassies abroad. And as a
practical matter, convictions held as passionately as
they are irrationally cannot be challenged without
peril. That Obama and Hollande have gone to great
lengths to avoid implicating Islam in the Charlie
Hebdo massacre constitutes implicit recognition of
the innate insolubility of religious conflicts – such
beliefs cannot be disproven on an evidentiary basis,
but only fought over, eye for eye. Once faith stands
accused, the guns come out and the bombs go off,
and death and mayhem ensue. Best to steer clear of
all this.
Yet risks, to say nothing of honest discourse, are
essential to true leadership. Faced with this, yet
another crisis involving Islam and the violence it
tends to beget, the only real options are unified
defiance (as embodied in the Je Suis Charlie marches
across France) or surrender, as exemplified in news
outlets’ widespread reluctance to publish the
eminently newsworthy Charlie Hebdo cartoons. By

257

accepting the bald casuistry and specious analysis
offered by religion’s apologists, or by denigrating, à
la Zogby, the (wonderfully) muscular French version
of secularism known as laïcité (no Islamic
headscarves or Christian crosses allowed inside
schools, no burqas to be worn outside), we are
collectively opting for capitulation, and jettisoning
our precious patrimony — freedom of expression, an
essential element of any open society. If we do this,
we should be ashamed of ourselves and do not
deserve to be free.
We need to turn the tables and refuse to let the faithbased or their smooth-talking accomplices set the
terms for debate; refuse to cower before the
balderdash term Islamophobia; refuse to let faithmongering fraudsters, from the Pope in the Vatican to
the pastor down the street, educate our children or
lecture us on morals or anything else. If we do not
believe the Bible is true or the Quran inerrant, we
need to say so, loudly, clearly and repeatedly, until
the “sacred” sheen of these books wears off. And it
will. Behaviors change as beliefs are adjusted. We no
longer burn witches at the stake or use ghastly vises
to crush the skulls of those suspected of being “secret
Jews” (as was done in Spain and elsewhere during
the Inquisition), and none but the insane among us
would enact the gruesome penalties prescribed in

258

Leviticus as retribution for trifling offenses. We have
progressed, and we will progress again, if we, for
starters, quit worrying about political correctness and
cease according religion knee-jerk respect.
Some time ago, the meme “Islam – the religion of
peace” began circulating, originating, apparently, in
an erroneous translation of the Arabic name for the
faith. Islam means “submission” (to the will of God).
The brave cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo faced down
threats and refused to submit — and paid with their
lives. For their deaths to mean anything, we need to
show similar guts.
We need, after all, to tell the truth. If we don’t start
doing this now, our next question must be, who
among us will be the next victims?
----We should not toss aside Ockham’s razor and concoct
additional factors that supposedly commandeered
their behavior. The Charlie Hebdo killers may have
come from poor Parisian banlieues, they may have
experienced racial discrimination, and they may
have even been stung by disdain from “the dominant
secular French culture,” yet they murdered not
shouting about any of these things, but about
“avenging the Prophet Muhammad.” They murdered

259

for Islam.
I like this. But what drives them isn't a chance to be
loved by "Islam," but by their mothers. They are
committing themselves to destroying that which are
avenues of progress—Charlie Hebdo's sanctioning
the importance of critiquing anything which cows.
What inspires this is a knowledge that when they
inhibited their own self-growth and let themselves be
passive vehicles for their mothers' pleasure, they
received love from their mothers. When they instead
strove and enjoyed Western freedoms, they came to
feel hopelessly abandoned and bad.
Their childrearing was incredibly bad. Their mothers,
abused so badly, re-inflicted the abuses upon their
children, and absolutely required them to serve as
stimulants/anti-depressants. When they instead
focused on themselves, they were rejected ... and the
children knew, then, that there was no greater evil in
the world—one cows completely before "God" and
thereby, maybe, you'll be graced by that gigantic
world of heaven known as your mother's approval.
You resist and enter the world of freedom and balking
your parent's needs for your own, and very soon you
won't be able to take the feeling of absolute rejection
—the sense that your mother has absolutely had it
with you!—and you'll go Jihad to slay true "bad

260

children" and die on a field tended by your mother's
soothing balm.
About how abused mother's raise their children,
about the origins of terrorism, go here:
http://psychohistory.com/books/the-emotional-lifeof-nations/chapter-3-the-childhood-origins-ofterrorism/
http://psychohistory.com/books/the-origins-ofwar-in-child-abuse/chapter-1-the-killermotherland/
But, the thing is, there are a whole lot of people who
are being bypassed by the kinds of freedoms society
is increasingly allowing, the kinds of prejudices that
are no longer enfranchised/allowed. Denied society
as sort of an exoskeleton in which to work out inner
psychic troubles—and thereby the living of a
becalmed everyday life—they’re going to go berserk
—kill people, berserk. The only thing that will stop
this is if we all commit to a war where a gigantic
number of "bad boys and girls" are slaughtered,
surrendered as sacrifices into the angry maw, which
we don't want.
So, we're going to have to get used to it. As much as

261

possible, we need to maintain the temperament
appropriate for progress-enjoying people, which is an
advancement of the "polite and commercial" that
ruled in the 18th-century, but along the same lines:
it's not excited, heated, but playful, sifting, and calm.
To do this while bombs are going on all around us is
going to be difficult, but I understand that Jane
Austen managed as much, however much some have
disparaged her for it.
Our problem may not just be “extremes.” We need to
remember that sometimes a whole people can decide
they've had it with their progressing selves and
suddenly turn provincial, crude and extreme: it's the
story of what happened to the Weimar Germans, who
went from participating in modernizing,
cosmopolitan Germany — however insufficiently and
nervously compared with German Jews—to
eschewing it for some "truer" German folk past.
But even if suddenly all of Islam and great swaths of
Christians and, even, a discouraging number of
previously level-headed liberals, start seeing "bad
children" everywhere and suit up for war,
progressives need to remind themselves that these are
all the victims of unloved childhoods and child
abuse: as much as possible, they need to be stopped,
but they certainly deserve no hate. What they're doing

262

was inevitable owing to the fact of their cowing
childhoods, and the fact that there is still in this world
a will to make things better.
We need to keep up the temperament of a
cosmopolitan populace, which this colourful and
enjoyable article is still mostly ramped up against.

Dialogue at Salon.com, February 9th 2015
0

1

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2015 1:23 AM
Tigriel Many atheists are people who
stopped believing in God because they felt hostility
toward their fathers, and toward other father figures
or authority figures because of that; and they
especially disliked the idea of an all-powerful, allknowing authority figure who would punish them for
their sins. So they had a psychological motivation for
pretending that God does not exist.
Most atheists have less authoritative parents,
and thus the idea of an all-powerful God has no
emotional appeal. If you mutilate yourself before Him,
you can't imagine your own parents thereby being
appeased. You just bleed, pointlessly, which ranks
rather far behind being a party animal in terms of fun.

263

0

An all-powerful male God, however, comes
in handy when you're really concerned about the
enormity of your early experiences with your allpowerful mother, who you spent most of your time
with in your first years of your life. Then it's a
phantasm you cling to pretend that true Titanness had
met her match!
If you've come out of that environment,
where Mother loomed large and shamed and
humiliated you because she needed to gobble you up
to make up for the fact that she emerged out of
female-hating culture, you become repellant of
anything that smacks of your once compromised state.
You come to hate homosexuals for their ostensibly
effeminate, their ostensibly compromised, nature.
Permalink


0

1

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2015 1:10 AM
Tigriel Benthead Taylor isn't all about the
pursuit of pleasure. Read his piece, he's admonishing
everyone who isn't willing to show guts and stop
capitulating to evil ... all those like Obama who kind
of want to step to the side. You read what he's
expecting of us, all the vigilance and stridence, and
you infer as well that he hardly wants us to be party
animals, who danced -- I'm sure he would accuse us -while "freedom" was lost.
I'm glad though that we're still thought of as

264

party animals. When people are in the mood to feel
pure, everything they see as vile actually represents
human fulfillment. How this can remain so with the
U.S., given its culture of work-hard and its depraved
social stratification, is beyond me ... but it's
encouraging that somehow this far from our heydey
we're still redolent of it.

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Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2015 12:55 AM
Keyboarder I should have qualified this. I
meant if you broaden the awareness of people who've
emerged out of unloving environments, where they
were bad every time they didn't do exactly as their
parents willed, it'll eventually lead them to feel
abandoned by their parents, as having lost their respect
and love, and they won't be able to take it. They'll
regress. If you broaden the awareness of people
outside of these environments, it's all good, of course.
Permalink


0

1

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2015 12:52 AM
Brighid of the Forge Tigriel But if this stuff
was everywhere, it'd be silencing, would it not?

265

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Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2015 12:46 AM
Keyboarder It is fear of difference, and the
punishments for harmless acts like these aren't some
kind of fake Islamophobia.
Fear of difference suggests that if somehow
everyone could lose their ignorance, we'd live in a
peaceful world. Attend to the tone in someone like
Taylor ... does he really seems like someone who
could possibly want to dissuaded from going on a
crusade?
If the removal of ignorance leads to greater
opportunity, new ways of understanding your world,
which might make you happier, it gets nullified, just
like Western "spoils" eventually get rejected by
affluent Muslims who'd in their youth indulged.
Greater opportunity leads to greater guilt, a greater
sense that you are bad/spoiled, which must be
projected onto other people for you to feel pure again,
for you to feel once again worthy of being loved.
People feeling this need can't be shown how
dispossessed of vile properties other
people actually are, for these other people have
become full of their own projections, which they
know are very, very bad!
Permalink

266

0

1

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 10:18 PM
ConradSpoke KatLib49 Liam Bently It's not
just giving us courage, it's chastising us if we don't
"speak up". Your bit -- "have allowed themselves to be
cowed into silence" -- is implicating, is chastising us
too. We didn't allow ourselves to be cowed; we just
didn't take the war bait.
Lending us ... well, maybe not courage but
encouragement, would be to let us know that we can
acknowledge that compared to the most progressive
people out there -- whether they are actually found in
Sweden, as some of us are supposing, or not -everyone is regressive, and it doesn't hurt us to point
this out rather than fear our current world necessarily
must crumble the very moment we overtly
acknowledge this fact. If we feel in our hearts that
everyone deserves to be equal, we're not shaming
anybody if we notice inadequacies; if we see, squarely,
who'll be driven to try and kill the kind of
provisioning world we want to enjoy that ostensibly
makes people selfish and spoiled-rotten ... and doesn't
Tayler himself sound like someone who'd like to take
a swipe at our ostensibly conflict-averting, softhearted, defeat-deserving effeminate world?
The world is built out of a lot of people who
for awhile -- good for them! -- were going progressive.
As many of them do the inevitable and slip away, our
thoughts shouldn't be on how to punish them but how

267

0

to reconstitute so the next time we allow ourselves to
move beyond conservative norms, we're ready to take
advantage and help.
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Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real
story about faith and violence
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 8:57 PM
Aunt Messy Patrick McEvoy-Halston I
thought it was pretty good. Did you hear about the evil
nun mentioned elsewhere ... "evil wimmins" can be
pretty scary!
Permalink


Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 7:27 PM
Benthead Good post. What I noticed is how he is ready to
humiliate us for our cowardice ... if we are brave, we'll spill
our guts and fight; if we "stand to the sides," we're opting
for capitulation, and jettisoning our precious patrimony,
and don't deserve to be free. This is a scolding he's hearing
in his own ears -- "to come back with his shield or on it" -and its won him over.
What troubles about religion isn't religion per se, but the
unstable mindset that leads one to be emotionally attracted
to belief systems that encourage scary ideas concerning

268

purity and sacrifice. He's advertising a path towards our
being pure, worthy of praise and love, and it doesn't
involve any of the manners we normally assume
appropriate to our cosmopolitan society. We don't stand
vigilant, we discourse. If things get heated, we do step
aside ... and begin again, respectfully, when this tide has
subsided.

Permalink
Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 5:51 PM
le vieux renard When I asked the punishing nun in fourth
grade about, "Thou Shalt not kill", during WW11 and
soldiers she looked at me with that haughty look of holiness
and said simply soldiers go straight to heaven.

That's what soldiers believe. Which is why the point isn't
just to kill but for grand suicide. Why else would Germany
wage war against all the world?
I hope you do very little in your life where you could
imagine that nun approving of you ... it'd mean you were
living an actualized life.
lets have the talk and avoid a generation of death where
the bottom 1% of us die to protect the hegemony of the top
1%
The "generation of death" isn't where you see this 99% vs.

269

1% split ... Hitler's Germany was one where being more
German added more to your status than being rich -- any
ignorant ass could daunt the professor, if his/her bloodline
was more pure. To add to the prowess of the Volk, you
couldn't be starving.
We're seeing healthcare reforms and some move to living
wage reforms, all while under the blanket of 99-vs-1
rhetoric. It could be that at some level we need to believe
our age is fundamentally denying, in order to okay reforms
that will eventually lead us out.

Permalink
Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 5:38 PM
Andy W Patrick McEvoy-Halston Registered
Citizen LARMARCH5

Getting in just before people were in the mood "to be lead"
by Hitler, would've been possible if we were all more
cognizant on how little those of punitive childhoods can
handle progressive periods like the Weimar.
Yes, abusive parenting leads one to project one's "badness"
into others -- see them as the vile "other". And eliminating
them means in effect eliminating all one's own "badness"
out of the world, leaving you completely "pure".
The enemy is also made to represent all the split-off

270

elements of one's parents -- you bond with a father-mother
country which is all virtue, and their "nation" is made
possessed of all things prowling, mean and cruel ... of
everything that lead to terribly abusive things being done to
you.

Permalink

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 5:26 PM
Andy W Patrick McEvoy-Halston Registered
Citizen LARMARCH5 I addressed it. Getting in before,
while they hadn't developed into a massed army, would
have been better.

Permalink

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 5:23 PM
Daniel Thron Too add: the two most powerful things that
move people to violence are suffering, like poverty (a form
of violence in itself), or fear of violence.

Suffering can actually calm people down -- if they're
suffering, they're not spoiling themselves, not being bad ...
no need to project one's "badness" onto others and
obliterate.

271

Ongoing societal growth draws people to remember their
own childhood suffering ... they do in a sense begin to
cling to it, out of fear of being abandoned. They do get in
mind to want to revenge themselves for it.
The fear of violence owes to childhood memories as well.
Paranoia arises not from the world as it exists today, but out
of well-founded knowledge/awareness that in your
childhood there were things there to sting you, to scare you,
to shame and humiliate you. This is the world that is now
perennially before you. Phantoms, ghosts, madness.

Permalink
Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 5:14 PM
Daniel Thron Americans were simply too happy and fat,
and no amount of preaching from the good book about the
enemies of God would get them off the couch.

How much do you want to bet that the next president wins
because s/he tells Americans that they'd become "too
happy, too fat, too lazy to get off the couch." Then, in
conjunction with austerity and most of them counting
amongst the 99 % struggling to survive, they'll see that yet
more will be offered to show how deprived and repentant
they'd become ... like perhaps in mass submitting
themselves to a traumatic war environment -- PTSD as an
acquisition, to shame those still just shopping and Burger

272

Kinging.
After some grand sacrificial war, it is true that for awhile
people are hard to shove off their good times. But then they
start feeling guilty and abandoned, and start chasing down
people they know will put an end to it ... people who'll
implement Depression-ensuring, growth-killing "hard
money," and policies like that.

Permalink
Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 4:38 PM
LARMARCH5 Patrick McEvoy-Halston Love-deprived
people, not "a-holes."

Permalink

Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 4:37 PM
Andy W Registered Citizen LARMARCH5 Interesting
response Andy. It still remains true that if we could
understand that cultures that have awful childrearing can't
allow themselves progress for long before they'll feel the
need for a sacrificial purge, we'll ensure we intervene
before they shuck off their cosmopolitan growth for
regressive provincialism.

So if the rest of Europe, realizing their childrearing was

273

nowhere near as abusive as Germans', stepped in as soon as
Germans starting finding the idea of the "volk," the mythic
collective, appealing -- that is, well before they started
targeting Jews and killing "useless eaters -- this would've
been a model for what we should do.
We'd understand that the first priority of these primitive
peoples was now to lose their independence and bond with
a large group entity of some sort, which would be followed
soon after by their waging war against all the remaining
progressive peoples out there -- the educated, the liberal,
the commercial and freedom-enjoying.
I'm not quite sure what we'd do with them at this point,
because at some level they'd be done. Maybe just house
them well, and give them -- as lovingly as possible -whatever palliatives that'd help them imagine they were
effectively cleansing the world of sin ... some kind of grand
scale virtual environment, maybe. It's their children we'd
need to focus our attention on ... add that much more
kindness, so they'd be nothing at all like their parents.

Permalink
Original Article: Anti-vaxxers are not the
enemy: Science, politics and the crisis of authority

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 4:16 PM
Ktimene Patrick McEvoy-Halston

We're not so much left open for fraudsters as we are
inspired to chase them down. If you're the sort of person
who not only is capable of interpreting and evaluating but

274

freely chooses to use these skills, you're the kind of person
bent on making a better life for yourself, making a better
world. Too many Americans can only see this attitude as
sinful, and so try and obliterate their all-too-transparent
sanity -- their call for a more sane, and opportunitypermitting world -- by expanding the concussive thunder of
demagogues. They're hoping to park a tank by the
intellectual, to shut them the hell up!
It's not actually possible, but if somehow we could be
people who were terribly poor at interpreting and
evaluating but nevertheless weren't afraid of a progressing
world, fraudsters would be recognized for their emotional
depravity, instantly, and we'd find ourselves willy-nilly
listening to those of higher-order intellectual and emotional
capacities.

Permalink
Original Article: It’s time to fight religion:
Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story
about faith and violence

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 3:23 PM
We should not toss aside Ockham’s razor and concoct
additional factors that supposedly commandeered their
behavior. The Charlie Hebdo killers may have come from
poor Parisian banlieues, they may have experienced racial
discrimination, and they may have even been stung by
disdain from “the dominant secular French culture,” yet
they murdered not shouting about any of these things, but
about “avenging the Prophet Muhammad.” They murdered
for Islam.

275

I like this. But what drives them isn't a chance to be loved
by "Islam," but by their mothers. They are committing
themselves to destroying that which are avenues of
progress -- Charlie Hebdo's sanctioning the importance of
critiquing anything which cows. What inspires this is a
knowledge that when they inhibited their own self-growth
and let themselves be passive vehicles for their mothers'
pleasure, they received love from their mothers. When they
instead strove and enjoyed Western freedoms, they came to
feel hopelessly abandoned and bad.
Their childrearing was incredibly bad. Their mothers,
abused so badly, re-inflicted the abuses upon their children,
and absolutely required them to serve as stimulants/antidepressants. When they instead focused on themselves,
they were rejected ... and the children knew, then, that there
was no greater evil in the world -- one cows completely
before "God," and thereby, maybe, you'll be graced by that
gigantic world of heaven known as your mother's approval.
You resist and enter the world of freedom and balking your
parent's needs for your own, and very soon you won't be
able to take the feeling of absolute rejection -- the sense
that your mother has absolutely had it with you! -- and
you'll go Jihad to slay true "bad children" and die on a field
tended by your mother's soothing balm.
About how abused mother's raise their children, about the
origins of terrorism, go here:
http://psychohistory.com/books/the-emotional-life-of-

276

nations/chapter-3-the-childhood-origins-of-terrorism/
http://psychohistory.com/books/the-origins-of-war-in-childabuse/chapter-1-the-killer-motherland/
But, the thing is, there are a whole lot of people who are
being bypassed by the kinds of freedoms society is
increasingly allowing, the kinds of prejudices that are no
longer enfranchised/allowed. Denied society as sort of an
exoskeleton in which to work out inner psychic troubles
and thereby the living of a becalmed everyday life, they're
going to go berserk -- kill-people, berserk. The only thing
that will stop this is if we all commit to a war where a
gigantic number of "bad boys and girls" are slaughtered,
surrendered as sacrifices into the angry maw, which we
don't want.
So, we're going to have to get used to it. As much as
possible, we need to maintain the temperament appropriate
for progress-enjoying people, which is an advancement of
the "polite and commercial" that ruled in the 18th-century,
but along the same lines: it's not excited, heated, but
playful, sifting, and calm. To do this while bombs are going
on all around us is going to be difficult, but I understand
that Jane Austen managed as much, however much some
have disparaged her for it.
Our problem may not just be extremes. We need to
remember that sometimes a whole people can decide
they've had it with their progressing selves and suddenly
turn provincial, crude and extreme: it's the story of what

277

happened to the Weimar Germans, who went from
participating in modernizing, cosmopolitan Germany -however insufficiently and nervously compared with
German Jews -- to eschewing it for some "truer" German
folk past.
But even if suddenly all of Islam and great swaths of
Christians and, even, a discouraging number of previously
level-headed liberals, start seeing "bad children"
everywhere and suit up for war, progressives need to
remind themselves that these are all the victims of unloved
childhoods and child abuse: as much as possible they need
to be stopped, but they certainly deserve no hate. What
they're doing was inevitable owing to the fact of their
childhoods, and the fact that there is still in this world a
will to make things better.
We need to keep up the temperament of a cosmopolitan
populace, which this colourful and enjoyable article is still
mostly ramped up against.

Permalink

Original Article: Anti-vaxxers are not the
enemy: Science, politics and the crisis of authority

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 1:32 PM
It has extended life and cured disease and improved
agriculture, and it has brought us eugenics and the
Tuskegee experiments and Hiroshima and Zyklon-B and a
whole host of amazing pesticides and herbicides and
preservatives and plastics that have permeated every

278

square millimeter of the planet’s surface and the bodies of
all its creatures, and whose long-term effects are not known
but don’t look that great.
The book Zuckerberg picked for discussion in his book
club is Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature."
The book is a reminder that the number of people who have
died owing to murder/slaughter has been decreasing over
time -- just previously our most progressive citizens
rejoiced in them, but it is nevertheless true that primitive
societies, our earliest historical origins, were a nightmare of
slaughter, even compared to American Civil War/WW1
levels.
We let go magical thinking and went science in the first
place because, owing to gradually improving childrearing,
more children were growing up less demon-haunted: the
landscape was less one where scary demons were all over
the place, in every place/everything, and they could view
things a bit more denatured. This meant more societal
growth ... and our childrearing has not reached the level
where this is something we can completely allow for
ourselves.
Societies use such things as science initially to grow and
better provide and then start feeling guilty for it, hopelessly
abandoned. They begin to shuck their growth, grow
provincial and turn against the progressive elements in their
society, and bond into some kind of regressive group -they could become suddenly more nationalistic, for
example. They then project all their negative attributes into

279

some "other" and prepare to slaughter them -- eugenics,
Hiroshima. When enough people have died, people feel the
skies are cleared again and such things as science progress,
much less spared accompanying evil.
There are a good number of people alive whose childhoods
were good enough that they would use science completely
benevolently -- they are entirely divorced in
emotional/psychic makeup from those who'd suddenly see
some absolutely valid need to evaporate an enemy and
cleanse ourselves of our "weakest." Earth wins when
they're the majority.

Permalink

Original Article: Anti-vaxxers are not the
enemy: Science, politics and the crisis of authority

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 1:09 PM
it’s absurd to assert that questioning the Catholic Church
or the National Football League is good, but questioning
the name-brand institutions of the scientific world is bad.

Questioning the Catholic Church and the National Football
League is done by society's more progressive people. They
want to see a reduction in self-flaggelant philosophies and
activities.
Questioning science is generally done by society's more
regressive. Ongoing societal advancement -- which to
them is a bad thing, since to them people who live healthily

280

and enjoyable are being sinful ... i.e. are ignoring "God":
their demanding, needy, love-starved parents -- means to
them that more children need to be punished and hurt.
They displace their own "badness" onto children -- so well
representing their own "guilty" growing, striving selves -and encourage their death through disease, economic
deprivation and war. This way, spurned, angry "parents in
the sky" are felt to be somewhat ameliorated.
Questioning name-brand institutions of the scientific
world, done by those who can be trusted, is of course being
done by progressives who also question the Catholic
Church and the National Football League. The
more hippieish of them realize that institutions, degrees,
professionals admonishing themselves within a "guild," is
still about keeping the phantasm Chaos at bay ... it's better
than magic, alchemy and a projection-full world, but it's not
that evolved/projection-dilluted ... we can let these
"authorities" go too.

Permalink
Original Article: “Jupiter Ascending”:
Channing Tatum in Spock ears fights lizard men, but
not for laughs

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2015 3:39 PM
bigguns Adventus Adding yet more weight to Hollywood
impetus, is creation, or getting a gut ready to burst? Isn't it
bested by the critic immediately by the sheer fact that they
discern, that they can spot it out, and be angered by its
stupid massing? How much is even the "creative's" own

281

inspiration, rather than their simply laying out the next
sequence in a narrative drama all the somnambulants
amongst us are expecting our lives to be lived by?
Immersing yourself within that matter, distinguishing what
might have worked from what should be ignored, isn't
risky? isn't work? mightn't itself be potentially a bit of
genius that might inspire creative efforts from someone
else?

Permalink
Original Article: “Jupiter Ascending”:
Channing Tatum in Spock ears fights lizard men, but
not for laughs

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2015 2:48 PM
bigguns Aren't we all just churning over what we
experienced, and coming up hopefully with something
novel to say?

Anti-vaxxers are the enemy

Critical thinking about the nature of authority might
induce us to wonder why those stories are invisible,
or spun as dry policy questions for readers of the
business pages, while so much bandwidth is occupied
with making fun of a few vaccine loons. It might
cause us to notice that treating people who feel
genuine uncertainty about mainstream medicine as if
they were low-achieving children only makes the
problem worse, and that it’s absurd to assert that

282

questioning the Catholic Church or the National
Football League is good, but questioning the namebrand institutions of the scientific world is bad.
(Andrew O'Hehir "Anti-vaxxers are not the enemy")
Questioning the Catholic Church and the National
Football League is done by society's more
progressive people. They want to see a reduction in
self-flaggelant philosophies and activities.
Questioning science is generally done by society's
more regressive. Ongoing societal advancement -which to them is a bad thing, since to them people
who live healthily and enjoyable are being sinful ...
i.e. are ignoring "God": their demanding, needy, lovestarved parents -- means to them that more children
need to be punished and hurt.
They displace their own "badness" onto children -- so
well representing their own "guilty" growing, striving
selves -- and encourage their death through disease,
economic deprivation and war. This way, spurned,
angry "parents in the sky" are felt to be somewhat
ameliorated.
Questioning name-brand institutions of the scientific
world, done by those who can be trusted, is of course
being done by progressives who also question the

283

Catholic Church and the National Football League.
The more hippieish of them realize that institutions,
degrees, professionals admonishing themselves
within a "guild," is still about keeping the phantasm
Chaos at bay ... it's better than magic, alchemy and a
projection-full world, but it's not that
evolved/projection-dilluted ... we can let these
"authorities" go too.
---It has extended life and cured disease and improved
agriculture, and it has brought us eugenics and the
Tuskegee experiments and Hiroshima and Zyklon-B
and a whole host of amazing pesticides and
herbicides and preservatives and plastics that have
permeated every square millimeter of the planet’s
surface and the bodies of all its creatures, and whose
long-term effects are not known but don’t look that
great. (Andrew O'Hehir "Anti-vaxxers are not the
enemy")
The book Zuckerberg picked for discussion in his
book club is Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of
Our Nature." The book is a reminder that the number
of people who have died owing to murder/slaughter
has been decreasing over time -- just previously our
most progressive citizens rejoiced in them, but it is

284

nevertheless true that primitive societies, our earliest
historical origins, were a nightmare of slaughter, even
compared to American Civil War/WW1 levels.
We let go magical thinking and went science in the
first place because, owing to gradually improving
childrearing, more children were growing up less
demon-haunted: the landscape was less one where
scary demons were all over the place, in every
place/everything, and they could view things a bit
more denatured. This meant more societal growth ...
and our childrearing has not reached the level where
this is something we can completely allow for
ourselves.
Societies use such things as science initially to grow
and better provide and then start feeling guilty for it,
hopelessly abandoned. They begin to shuck their
growth, grow provincial and turn against the
progressive elements in their society, and bond into
some kind of regressive group -- they could become
suddenly more nationalistic, for example. They then
project all their negative attributes into some "other"
and prepare to slaughter them -- eugenics, Hiroshima.
When enough people have died, people feel the skies
are cleared again and such things as science progress,
much less spared accompanying evil.

285

There are a good number of people alive whose
childhoods were good enough that they would use
science completely benevolently -- they are entirely
divorced in emotional/psychic makeup from those
who'd suddenly see some absolutely valid need to
evaporate an enemy and cleanse ourselves of our
"weakest." Earth wins when they're the majority.

Dialogue at Salon.com (Feb. 5 2015)

Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 7:21
PM
Benthead Patrick McEvoy-Halston I hear you. Mind you, in
presence of chivalric liberal Chait, about to do battle in
support of 18th-century liberal ideals(!) it's okay ....
perhaps more than okay, to remind that people can be
Quixotic, strange, as bizarrely motivated as Freud held all
humanity to be.
Different cultures owe entirely to different childrearing.
You can make all the fuss you want about reactionaries
across different cultures, but if they sound the same in
tone ... if they're equally aggressive, then they properly
belong grouped with one another, however much their
decorating aesthetics may sort out. Historical change owes
to gradually improving childrearing. People believe they

286

deserve a better life, and they invent belief systems that
help enable it to be so.
The nature of geopolitics depends on the norm within our
own families. If we cooperated there and addressed each
other as equals, this will prove the same when we engage
with one another at the UN. If we fought bitterly, constantly
trying to shame and humiliate ... then when one, say,
shucks off austerity, our reaction will be angry and
punitive. Germany's childrearing was the worst in Europe
in the first part of the 20th-century; I wonder where exactly
it stands now.
I appreciate the comments you make here, Benthead, the
good that you do. Freud rules!

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 6:40
PM
Benthead

I'm a lefty, but I still roll my eyes at some PC excesses.
So what are you like a governor who administrates the
excesses and brilliance of the young? I'm speaking, of
course, as someone who is routinely accused of being
excessive in my Freudianism ... and all I see is the
beautifully opened vision that is being forestalled by those

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who recognize me in a way which means the least
adjustment as possible.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 5:28
PM
Lorin K Correct. What the centre-left is giving us these
days is ready disparagement of those they still take
inspiration from.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 5:12
PM
esstee AtavistEsquire lwaxanatroi I agree. But once you
start reflecting more on how other people are being hurt or
humiliated by your language, it doesn't mean then assuming
that you have more to learn from them than they do from
you. It may only mean that there is room for you to grow in
your sincere effort to be humane and loving.

For example, I might as a humane therapist use language
that threatens/shames someone who became a rapist and a
murderer owing entirely to sustained early childhood abuse,
and I should correct course: my aim should be to make this
afflicted human being feel comfortable rather than

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manipulated into being cowed and docile. But in this
situation, even as I've explored their situation as much as
possible from "the inside," and as much as I've begun to
address my need to rethink how I engage with people like
him/her in the future, I unfortunately haven't much to learn
from them. It's unfortunate, because this is when the world
is best -- when every single person out there has had a
developmental history which means they shine at least as
brightly as you do. Good hippie stuff.
If you're a socialist, a real progressive, what you may really
have to rethink is any inclination you still have to submit to
the role of the sinner as soon as someone strikes the pose of
the put-off adult. You still think of yourself as in some way
bad and long for the acceptance you get when you finally
admit to it. You won't long hold onto this "badness"
anyways; for you'll eventually project it onto others, which
will mean a whole lot of hurt for them.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 4:31
PM
PubliusPencilman it is an honest question: can we disagree
as thinking people and not exclusively as representatives of
fraught racial histories?

Ultimately we're all representatives of fraught family
histories. Brittney has acknowledged that black families

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have historically expected obedience out of their children,
and that this might have resulted in the curbing of creativity
and the breeding of fear and resentment (projected onto
others so one isn't put in the position of pointing fingers at
one's own terrifying parents?). She brings all this into
every conversation she has with "you."
What's your family history like? Are you bringing the
same? If not, she may be more afflicted by the past than
you are.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 4:18
PM
AtavistEsquire How about just calling her Brittney? We're
all together here in the salon, and it's democratic manners
not to go formal or start titling one another.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 4:05
PM
Lorin K And since these are liberals and leftists who also
happen to be white, straight, or male, they are actually
interested in learning and growing, otherwise why would
they be joining you in the fight against oppression in the

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first place?
The charge is that they aren't so interested in learning and
growing but in extending their privilege. And you know
this, ostensibly, because the moment you show them how
"white" and self-serving/promoting their version of
liberalism is, they get upset rather than prepare themselves
to learn and grow; they feel inclined to want to "shush"
you. White, heterosexual liberals, the charge goes, so
much don't want to know that they themselves are the
problem -- that they are elitists who count on a horde of
loyal "diverse" followers to ultimately count them lords -that rather than reflect and absorb they angrily reject and
flee.
Personally, I think that some of those charged as being
secretly bigoted are actually genius at getting at the
perspective of others -- the best there is alive. They just
won't let kill-joy conservative swamping derail their
progressivism ... if that makes any sense.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 3:35
PM
Rashomons Baby AtavistEsquire I didn't mean "querulous."
I meant rather curious, or atypical, or maybe even queer.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 3:30
PM
Rashomons Baby Patrick McEvoyHalston AtavistEsquire Depends on how evolved I am. But
yes, I am the judge, or, rather, the person who in good faith
decides for myself.

If you say something that makes me feel uncomfortable,
you could be a bully but you could also be a friend. It
depends on how much of my current framework of thinking
is built out of defence of early-suffered child abuse.
If a lot, then your making me feel uncomfortable will be
felt by me as someone piercing through a protective shield
that threatens to sink me back into a humiliated state. If
very little, then your making me uncomfortable won't be
felt as your making me feel uncomfortable: it'll simply be
something initially querulous that quickly becomes a
delightful opportunity to see my world anew! Thank you!
Thank you! Thank you!

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 3:09

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PM
AtavistEsquire Rashomons Baby That would depend on
how progressive they are. If they're bullies, then yes; if
they're evolved, then no.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 3:07
PM
BlarBlarBlar Salon employs both of them because "they"
think they're both fine journalists -- fine political
journalists.

I do think there are some on staff who sort of agree with
you, though ... but these are people who hold perhaps an
older conception of what a proper journalistic piece is
supposed to be.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 2:59
PM
Rashomons Baby dcer then you may be missing an
opportunity to find (and potentially diminish) the shadow
of the oppressor buried deep within yourself (to
paraphrase Audre Lorde).

293

A lot of people want to recognize themselves as possessed
of sin -- are you advertising to it?
The point shouldn't be to gather as many people together as
possible who agree that at some deep level we're all bad,
and go out on a purifying crusade against those still
enjoying lattes, Lena Dunham, and who feel pretty much
wholly alright with themselves.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 2:52
PM
della street Patrick McEvoy-Halston It seemed implicit that
if they failed they deserved blame ... isn't this how this
rhetoric of rewards and punishments goes?

Personally, I don't they deserve recognition or blame. If we,
if the state, provisions you the way "you" deserve -- which
is amply -- a good outcome is guaranteed. If you're left
destitute by your parents and the state is nowhere to help,
no god-miracle happens: guaranteed, you'll raise very
mentally disturbed children.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 2:44

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PM
della street If anything, the life of the single Black mother,
who manages to raise good kids despite huge challenges,
should be venerated.
And the ones who don't manage this miracle should be ...
disrespected? These millionaire rap performers don't do
this, but they do distribute it with great enthusiasm amongst
the rest of the female populace.

Permalink
Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 2:13
PM
overcat Patrick McEvoy-Halston Moses got to be God's
favourite, but that still didn't stop him from believing God's
ten commandments were a good idea -- so no.

What would have stopped it is if there was nothing in her
relationship with her mother and father that made her able
to relate to the idea that if you suffer for your
God, then you're a good person.

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 2:10
PM

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Splint Chesthair But racism, sexism, heterosexism and
every other ism are bigoted and illegitimate.
Some of us aren't sure exactly what's going to get identified
as racism, sexism, heterosexism, and thus worthy of
thorough censure. If like Brittney, who is a person of deep
faith, the people who decide this actually hold suspiciously
conservative traits, it can be a means by which actual
progress is inhibited or canceled.

Permalink
Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 2:01
PM
BlarBlarBlar BeansAndGreens You're trying to bait
BeansAndGreens to dump Jenny Kutner/Brittney Cooper
identity politics for Thomas Frank economic/international
affairs? Doesn't this to you sound a little bit like keeping
female talk hidden while the boys smoke cigars?

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 1:55
PM
Chaemera Patrick McEvoy-Halston BeansAndGreens A
beacon's only duty is to shine brightly. We should
remember it wasn't Fitzgerald's fault that "Great Gatsby"

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went out of circulation in the 1930s, but the populace's -the idiot middle -- who willed him out of view. The middle
is lost; to me its obvious the direction they're headed.
Our concern is to embolden progressives that the right
attitude is one which recognizes no authority simply
because they're an "authority"; to deflate any impulse on
their part to base their self-esteem on rectitude by showing
clearly that those who live best and most freely and most
enviably can hardly give a damn if they're ignored for
being trash, or praised for dressing princely. These sites do
this inspiringly. They inspire and embolden me.

Permalink
Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 1:29
PM
BeansAndGreens If Salon wants to help society engage in
discussions of race and privilege, it should elevate the
discourse, not drop it down to Fox News levels.

This is Gawker/Jezebel level, not just Fox, and Gawker is a
powerful progressive voice ... it unsettles. Fox would talk a
lot about the need to elevate the discourse too, but you'd
never hear such a thing from these sites ... Are you sure you
know through exactly which discourse, the liberal fight is
finding its most vibrant avenue?

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Original Article: White male temper
tantrums: What the “political correctness” debate
completely misses

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2015 1:17
PM
pavioc16 In this regard he relegates our intellectual and
political contributions to the terrain of unruly and
excessive forms of embodiment and emotionality, which he
rhetorically constructs as mutually exclusive from the
terrain of enlightened reason.

This bit strikes me as right. Brittney is however a person of
deep faith, which means that the idea of a pure God and his
sinful children means something to her. I suspect her
ultimate inevitable bent to be a kill-joy will arise mostly out
of the kind of parental-child relationship she was born into
which gave birth to this perversity.
Chaif is a kill-joy as well. He supported the Iraq war which
killed millions and drained billions that could have gone
into social programs ... into things which would have
opened up better health and more joy. Right now he seems
to be encouraging liberals to imagine themselves knights to
"lady liberty" -- to counter the "evil" females, the witches,
which may in his mind mostly be large, grasping black
women -- and can more readily see this leading to combat
and stalled progress rather than academic creativity.

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Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for

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prime time

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 6:14 PM
bootknife stephened ornwen Didn't mean this to read as an
insult to you, btw. I meant that all parents should see their
children as an opportunity to give them more love than they
themselves received.

Permalink
Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for
prime time

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 6:12 PM
Cooper53 Kronosaurus Booblay Ownership of children? I
think not. Parental rights until you abuse them and then the
community steps in to assure humane treatment of your
child.

I'm not even sure about this. If the community is more
evolved than the particular family, it should be there from
the start. Otherwise, it'll just be another
republican/libertarian bent on hurting the vulnerable.

Permalink
Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for
prime time

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 5:56 PM
jonvaljon Patrick McEvoy-Halston okay.

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Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for

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prime time

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 5:56 PM
DMichael Hoyt Yes, shushing is you being the authoritative
parent to their being the inferior child. When you shush,
you're actually entering the mindset of your own regressive
parents, who did that to you.

Permalink
Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for
prime time

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 5:54 PM
bootknife Patrick McEvoy-Halston stephened ornwen okay.
maybe also opportunity ... to raise children more
emotionally evolved than you are.

Permalink

Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for
prime time

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 5:36 PM
stephened bootknife ornwen Please, go ahead and give
your children all the non-infectious diseases you like since
they are, after, your property.

You think children are parents' property?

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Original Article: Rand Paul needs to be
shushed: Why the confrontational brat is not ready for
prime time

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2015 5:27 PM
The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the
children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health.

Ron Paul doesn't actually believe this. If he got elected,
he'd suddenly find all kinds of excuses for the state
meddling with progressive childrearing within families.
You'd be part of Alfie Kohn's "no homework" movement,
part of anyone's "no spank" movement, and you'd be
deemed guilty of raising weak, spoiled children, presenting
no warrior resistance to ISIS.

Permalink
Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 7:33 PM
Blueflash Maybe it was purity, the physical desire to feel
purified, rather than idealism ... which to me makes people
seem all bookish Thomas Jeffersons. To feel free of sin
yourself, and to be righteously attacking it all on the
outside, could come near to motivating hundreds of
thousands, perhaps even now.

And when they felt the country was being betrayed, their
founding, perhaps they weren't (at the deepest level)
thinking of what happened a hundred years before but more
of early personal experiences akin to what "American
Sniper" showed ... the young learning early how good it
feels to stick up for, to "sheepdog," your family.

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Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 7:03 PM
bernie4366 A whole country doesn't want Isquith? I'm sure
he doesn't know what to make of that ... it's a bit like being
told the moon doesn't like you, and sure enough, looking
up to see the moon deeply frowning -- which would be
surreal but also kinda awesome!

Permalink

Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 6:54 PM
Blueflash So hundreds of thousands of ordinary white
Northerners rushed to give up their lives because their
Southern neighbours weren't sufficiently democratic? Very
reasoning and noble of them. But isn't that too a bit
preposterous? How about they did it because all of a
sudden they stopped seeing Southerners as neighbours -however inferior ones, wed still too much to sheep-thinking
and aristocratic values -- but as dangerous vipers who near
literally threatened to poison the body public? What was
the imagery like? How were Southerners portrayed? In a
clear-visioned fashion or in ways that smacked of heavy
mental disturbance and delusion?

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Original Article: The “American Sniper”
cultural moment: How Iraq became the new Vietnam

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SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 6:30 PM
others adjourn to the wine shop or coffeehouse to celebrate
the meaninglessness of everything and discuss the new
episode of “Girls.”

Nelson Fox: Perfect. Keep those West-Side liberal nuts,
psudo-intellectuals...
Joe Fox: Readers, Dad. They're called readers.
Nelson Fox: Don't do that, son. Don't romanticize them.

Permalink

Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 6:12 PM
Jack Burroughs Patrick McEvoy-Halston Kevin J
Cunningham

Rolling Stone was intuitively persuaded that the UVA rape
accuser was telling the truth.
My intuition tells me that you think men are under attack
by female schemers and their hapless male minions. My
sense is that you gloried in this rebuke. My intuition tells
me that all proof of this I would subsequently pro-offer
you, wouldn't gain your ascent, even if Athena herself came
down to weigh all evidence on my side.

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Original Article: Political and incorrect:

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Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 6:06 PM
susan sunflower I think they suspect that the world's
greatest threat right now is the seductiveness of us all going
us vs. them. If "Charlie Hebdo" gets recontextualized, it's
defused as a "tea in the harbor," linchpin event and
becomes one that has its complicated, nuanced aspects. Our
complex, liberal society gets to continue, as our corpus
callosum smacks our reptilian matter right in the face.

Permalink
Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 5:57 PM
theglove Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Burroughs Kevin J
Cunningham I know, but he's become especially militant
right now, and you sense that given a choice between the
two (as an opponent), Islam is his preference.

Permalink

Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 5:55 PM
Jack Burroughs Patrick McEvoy-Halston Kevin J
Cunningham

If you "sense" something nefarious about someone, you
still have to back up your suspicions with substance. If you

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fail to do that, then you're engaged in character
assassination.
You sound like someone mansplaining the world-turnedupside-down damage female intuition leads to.

Permalink
Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 5:39 PM
Jack Burroughs Kevin J Cunningham For instance, how
many times has Salon, and many of its commenters,
basically accused Bill Maher and Sam Harris of racism
and other bigotries for their substantive, good faith
criticisms of Islam?

Many, because they're not done in "good faith." Good faith
would mean that if there was some means of making the
world more progressive which didn't mean their isolating
Islam as an opponent worthy of a crusade, they'd have
chosen it. We sense their need for people to be crushed,
guiltlessly, probably because an ever-evolving world
actually makes them feel nervous and jumpy -- surely, for
all this progress, some group has to be made to pay for our
collective sins -- and this is why Salon attacks them.

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Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
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SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 4:16 PM

Hal Ginsberg
From Socrates to Thomas Paine to David Hume to John
Stuart Mill to Jeremy Bentham to FDR to MLK to Bernie
Sanders, liberals are just about always right.
A lot of men on this list. It's what's appealing to Chait ...
this sense of time-travelling back to the 18th-century, when
it wouldn't have occurred to anyone to have listed a woman
-- on anyone feminine -- on a list of who's right.

Permalink
Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 4:12 PM
DailyAlice Blueflash I think if we explored history we'll
find ample examples of just-former neighbours suddenly
hacking the hell out of one another. People can be getting
along amiably and then suddenly switch, and no longer see
kindly Joe or Sue but demons that mean to submit everyone
to their servitude.

Permalink

Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 4:04 PM
gerryquinn I think he's trying to masculinize liberalism, and
cast everyone else as enfeebling ... I think it's about his own

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feeling weak right now, feminine. I find his vision is
becoming mythological. I fear that a whole lot of people
will appreciate the kind of "armour" he casts over them
when he dresses them as lady-liberty protectors. Their
absolute immunity -- in their heroic chivalry -- to doubt and
contestations.

Permalink
Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 3:37 PM
The problem for me is really just fundamentalism ...
peoples whose childhoods were repressive enough that they
feel a need to stop growth, that they feel good boys and
girls in doing so.

There are plenty of people who associate with the left but
who are actually quite conservative in values--Brittney
Cooper, I find, is one of them; and it should be interesting
to see what happens when some of her fellow writers at
Salon get plunked into her category of racist villains. I
think that many of these people are aware that sometimes in
stopping people from saying and exploring things, they're
not stopping something absent of sensitivity and that
encourages bigotry, but that encourages growth -something that is actually a good thing.
With these people, we have to be sensitive that what
motivates them is not villainy/evil but a shallower, more
punitive and cowing childhood; we have to delay our

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reaction by getting inside them and experiencing the world
from their perspective; but we do have to recognize them
nevertheless as obstacles -- they are that.

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Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 2:55 PM
Blueflash Yeah, reason was really king when before people
could hardly see the world for it being so coated with their
projections -- so 1500 to 1900 or so. Clear vision, reason,
came out of being more empathically raised as children.

Those still clinging to the word/concept now experience it
as a (perhaps patriarchal?) bulwark against feelings, makes
them feel coated in armour -- it's autistic, in a way -- and
are hardly our most evolved sort.

Permalink
Original Article: Political and incorrect:
Why Jonathan Chait’s attack on p.c. culture is so
flawed

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 2:43 PM
When Chait supported the Iraq War, I'm sure if you'd have
seen him you'd have spotted something wild in his eyes.
There's something wild in his demeanour right now, and it
scares me.

To the limited degree that the humanity of AfricanAmericans was recognized by U.S. government and society

308

in the 19th century, it came through the thrust of a bayonet
and the barrel of a gun.
Is this what happened in Britain when they turned against
the slave trade? Abolitionists started wading about and
spearing every conservative in sight?
Maybe what enabled the recognition of the humanity of
African-Americans, was slowly better childrearing. More
empathy in childhood means less projection of your own
"badness" onto others in adulthood. The war just suited
those who required that progress be met with a huge hoard
of sacrifices to the maw ... then we'd be allowed to keep it.

Permalink
Original Article: California takes on the
NFL: New bill would force teams to pay cheerleaders
minimum wage

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015 12:50
AM
It'd be nice if some of the players spoke up for them. Such
a staple of the game, and paid nothing.

Permalink

Original Article: “I don’t like to fight”:
Brittney Cooper on life, God, childhood & mortality

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2015 5:53
PM
susan sunflower Patrick McEvoy-Halston Benthead
becomes a way to erase Brittney and what she's saying in
factor of making her and it somehow the product of

309

pathology.
Brittney herself has argued that who children end up
becoming depends a great deal on how they were raised.
She argues that childhoods where obedience is obtained out
of fear, "curtail creativity ... and breed fear and resentment
between parents and children that far outlasts childhood."
She's not the product simply of pathology; I think she's
right that there was love there, however much I think her
need to keep her mother holy means she overstates it.
I listen to her, catch a tone that suggests to me she'll
actually prove someone who shortchanges progress,
ongoing self-expression, growth, and, I think, I point to her
childhood, to origins, to help clarify what might otherwise
people might be distracted from. "What you sense in her
owes to her as a child being abandoned and punished for
trespasses, and her ongoing need to make her parents right
and avoid punishment by ultimately serving to inhibit
freedoms and demonize those more progressive than she."

Permalink
Original Article: “I don’t like to fight”:
Brittney Cooper on life, God, childhood & mortality

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2015 5:22
PM
susan sunflower MWH Patrick McEvoy-Halston Benthead

It might also be useful to look at this column:
http://www.salon.com/2013/11/29/lay_off_michelle_obama

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_why_white_feminists_need_to_lean_back/
where she backs off feminists claiming that Michelle
Obama had become a "English lady of the manor, Tory
party, circa 1830s," saying that,
"The fact that she is ride-or-die for Barack makes us love
her all the more. And that struggle between supporting your
man and his vision for the nation versus being the full,
forceful expression of your black womanhood is a struggle
that black feminists know all too well, and are uniquely
poised to sit with, not uncritically, but rather in a productive
space of discomfort."
which sounded a little bit to me like the sort of
"contentment" 1950s women of all colours were supposed
to "sit with." And I'm wondering if her perspective,
informed by masochism and, I think, somewhat suspect
respect for victims ... witness her claim that Bill Cosby
should always be a hero to black people, owes to the
particular nature of her childhood.

Permalink
Original Article: “I don’t like to fight”:
Brittney Cooper on life, God, childhood & mortality

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2015 4:55
PM
MWH Patrick McEvoy-Halston Benthead I'd like to see if
there is a difference in how they were raised as children,
between feminists being attacked via the
solidarityisjustforwhitepeople hashtag, and those feminists

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doing the attacking.

Permalink
Original Article: “I don’t like to fight”:
Brittney Cooper on life, God, childhood & mortality

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2015 4:46
PM
susan sunflower Patrick McEvoy-Halston Benthead I think
progressives are being managed so that putting blocks up
against regressive thinking, is not their being sane but their
being prejudiced. So I fight against this disaster.

Permalink

Original Article: “I don’t like to fight”:
Brittney Cooper on life, God, childhood & mortality

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2015 4:39
PM
Benthead Well, she's said that it has been traditional in
many black families to raise children to be obedient,
disciplined, to give them spankings, and that this is
something she's hoping to unlearn. She's written that in her
childhood, parents who thought their children were too
good to be spanked were ostracized. She's written that
while she's seen many white children "yelling" (talking
back?) at their parents, being received calmly, gently,
soothingly, she can't recount a time when she saw a black
child yell at her mother in public. Never--such a child
would be dead meat.

Gotz Aly recently described the different attitudes towards
children between German and Jewish families in the first

312

half of the 20th-century, with the Germans being
disciplinarian, not tolerating any dissent, and quite frankly
beating the hell out of their children, and the Jewish being
more progressive, raising children so they were unafraid to
take risks and who were actually known to talk back to
teachers--something German children never did.
Aly doesn't say much praise about the Germanic
childrearing culture, but rather attacked it for inspiring
envy and hate. Cooper claims that black parents are able to
discipline their children in a wholly loving way--she
believes it's misguided and has terrible consequences, but
it's always done out of love and care ... and thereby is
considerably different from disciplinarian cultures of the
past.
Do you believe her? What kind of voice are we giving rise
to? The one that would flatten any child who behaved too
freely or who didn't shepherd properly exactly who one was
permitted to quarrel with? Or one that "usefully" challenges
such "totalitarian" ideas, like that children should be talked
to rather than spanked, and that parents aren't always right?

Permalink
Original Article: When “political
correctness” hurts: Understanding the microaggressions that trigger Jonathan Chait

TUESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2015 8:07 PM
Brittney Cooper has written that she came out of a home
where obedience was valued, and that this no doubt stifled
her ability to think creatively. It seems to have affected her

313

ability to think of creativity, of "discovering the world
anew," as necessarily entirely virtuous--perhaps it can't be
detached from a selfish colonizing impulse?
If whatever group you belong to raises its children
progressively, when you're targeted, it's going to be because
you're doing what their parents cruelly crushed them for.
It's going to be out of envy, and to show themselves the
good boy or girl who's still devoted to his/her authoritarian
parents.

Permalink
Original Article: Hollywood’s political
ignorance: What Cosby, “Selma” & Hebdo reveal
about white liberal consciousness

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2015 10:49
PM
Brittney Cooper said she grew up in a community which
insisted on kids learning to be absolutely obedient. You
never spoke up against your parents. Never ... or you'd get a
whooping. She said that within her community, children
who did something "wrong" in other people's homes and
were beaten there for it, could expect to also be spanked
upon returning home for showing disrespect to a neighbour.

Is her problem that Charlie Hebdo is actually the "person"
she wanted to be but was scared away from fully
becoming ... someone small taking on institutions that insist
on being revered? Someone small behaving absolutely
liberally? Is being liberal just a bit too permissive for her?
Is she inclined to see us as spoiled conquistadors and in

314

need of a whooping, when we'd dare shrink something as
grand as an established religion into something just kinda
regular we could presume to hold to account?



Permalink
Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 2015 5:51 PM
J.C. Miller If Jews in France argued that
they were hated by some elements in their country
owing to their success, would this be reality-based?
Would the people who hate them be close to what we
think of as fundamentalist -- i.e. highly conservative?
Or do you think everyone who hates them naturally
has in mind Israel/Palestine?
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 3:25 AM
esstee Patrick McEvoyHalston Benthead Signe_S So Muslims cannot express
themselves as Muslims, but others can berate them
quite viciously with impunity.
Is this what is happening when they wear
their apparel -- expressing themselves? I would hope
so, but somehow that seems what a progressive person
might apply to their experience. In any case, I'm sorry
they weren't simply respected and nurtured -- what
they deserved -- but full fruition of a culture can be no

315

more than what we'd see when something regressive is
allowed the same. And personally I think the most
important repression they want revenge from is what
they experienced from their parents: being berated
viciously with impunity ... is the norm for any culture
which still believes in absolute obedience in a god, I
assure you. There was terror there -- abandonment and
infanticide was what was offered "you" if you
disobeyed your parents. Revenge, you'd never overtly
direct against them but against some other in the social
sphere.
Permalink




Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 3:02 AM
FreeQuark Benthead unless he or she thinks
ethnic turmoil, militarism, classism, consumerism,
and environmental destruction represent progress
Consumerism might be. Do you mean like
the characters in "Girls" who still love shopping in
New York? ... I'm not sure how many people parading
against them are really all that progressive.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 2:31 AM
esstee Patrick McEvoyHalston Benthead Signe_S What is the geopolitics?
Some people out there feel great when they take down

316

those who still feel permitted to engage in debate and
ridicule authority. We focus on what regressives have
done to them -- Bush et al. -- but all progressives
needn't to have done to ensure the same was just keep
being comfortable with societal growth. They are the
freedom-exploring child they were abandoned for
trying to be.
If you were attacked by the regressives of
another culture but were yourself the product of
nurturing parents, you won't see the world as one
where you might procure righteous revenge. You'll
know that what everyone has suffered too much from
is humiliation and you'll do what you can just to
increment a bit the love.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 2:12 AM
Benthead Patrick McEvoyHalston Signe_S "Geo-politics" sounds sober .... what
"adults" do. The miracle of what Freud does is to help
break this fortress: the adult world isn't beyond the
childish but fully informed by it -- how mommy and
daddy loved, or did not love, us. You'll admit this
would require a brave step for an adult -- to admit that
they're still settling out their grievances, their being
owned by, their parents, when it's Wall Street, Angela
Merkel, international relations, and the latest whatever
that Atwood and McEwan have pumped out?
Permalink

317



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 2:01 AM
Benthead Patrick McEvoyHalston Signe_S Freud had the punitive God as really
just the castrating parent projected ... was he just frolic
in your more sober-important world of geo-politics as
well?
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 1:43 AM
Signe_S Patrick McEvoy-Halston Stephen
Stralka What is going on in the world is that that some
people still haven't quit being those who challenge,
debate and grow, while whole hosts of others have.
Those who keep on valuing growth have had a certain
kind of parents while those trying to shut it down,
have had others. The proper locus of attention is on
the individual and how s/he is allowed to know the
world: on you, the next person, and I.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 1:39 AM
Signe_S Stephen Stralka Patrick McEvoyHalston The only history you need to know is one's
personal history: how did your parents react to your

318

efforts to grow and individuate from them? If they
(parents) were well-loved enough to respond
enthusiastically, self and societal growth comes easy
to you: growth and self-attention never meant
abandonment for you. The only thing that will stop
you about your generational history is if it wasn't one
of those where each generation found means to
improve upon the parenting they themselves received.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 1:34 AM
Benthead Signe_S Patrick McEvoyHalston If the lower classes can resent, why do you
not allow that it is THEY who allow themselves to be
ruled? In any case, I don't worry so much about
resentment but about those who feel virtuous -- loyal
to their parents -- in taking down the more progressive
elements in society.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 1:25 AM
Signe_S Patrick McEvoy-Halston In my
judgment, what is happening is what will keep on
happening, so long as some "cultures" continue to
value progress. We outpace what a lot of people can
allow for themselves, and they feel loyal to their
parents' values in launching themselves at us. I don't

319

care how big a hoard they become, I think any turn on
our part to focus mostly on our "inevitable" need to
factor them in primarily, will be a sign of our own now
uneasiness with ongoing change, our displacement
(and implicit ridicule) of our predecessors' attitudes
and expectations for us.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 1:20 AM
TXJew Sure, because Jews tend to more
progressive than other people. They "embody" all the
freedoms that less well-loved people can't allow
themselves.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 1:05 AM
Signe_S Patrick McEvoy-Halston It gets
pulled down by those who can't stand the growth
progressives keep on pushing for. Our current situation
is to find some way to make the emphasis the daily
enjoyments still available to us, the progress -- now
including, finally, such things as a living wage -coming out of liberal governments, rather than
whatever wants to make war, suspicion, settling
matters -- hate -- what we should be focusing on.
Permalink

320


Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2015 12:52 AM
Signe_S How many people do you know
who don't identify as multiculturalist that are actually
peace-loving? Some of us identify as multiculturalist
because this is where many of the more respectful and
loving people "are." I personally champion other
cultures because it's "where" I can "applaud" my love
and appreciation for people everywhere. People who
hurt other people were brutalized by their unloved
parents when they were infants ... so how can I wish
them any ill-will? When you're speaking to them, you
may not always be learning from them, but you're
always hoping for them: I really wish, at least, they
could be what they deserved to be -- those I would
have as much to learn from as they do from me.
In truth, however, the only people we should
be attending to to learn something from are those of
the most progressive attitudes. If Seattle and San Fran
no longer can stand living amongst people who can't
afford groceries and so insist on a decent living wage,
let's look at places like that to actually learn, for
instance.
Permalink



Original Article: Why the Charlie Hebdo attack
goes far beyond religion and free speech
SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2015 11:45 PM
oregoncharles ilkim And that's from an
atheist who thinks religion is ultimately harmful. It's

321

nonetheless part of the human condition, so I salute
the work and courage of those who seek to make it
helpful, instead.
How is bowing to a superior entity natural to
anyone other than those still unfortunately raised by
parents who expected obedience and deference?
Permalink


Original Article: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the
Five Armies”: Peter Jackson’s long goodbye to
Middle-earth
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2014 3:30 AM
I have no problem with any of this. Jackson
is a great director who is ebbing in his power. But still
as such, you know there's always a chance he'll do
something you haven't seen before, something done
without your consideration first in mind. Genuine
leadership, like Ridley Scott -- both of whom
nevertheless are approaching the point you may decide
not to witness at all. They've been built great out of a
previous time, but they're ebbing in their ability to say
something meaningful to our own. It begins to seem
even criminal, like you ought to be Joaquin Phoenix,
strangling them for being incommensurate, and having
to content "yourself" with your more minor abilities
that possess the virtue of at least being able to be put
in play.
Permalink


Original Article: NFL’s next “woman problem”:
Why domestic abuse is only the beginning

322

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014 3:41 PM
MargoArrowsmith Patrick McEvoyHalston Cultures that value hard work are also those
that insist on paying people a low wage. Therefore,
within these cultures, we don't assure people economic
gains by pointing out how hard they are working.
Permalink



Original Article: NFL’s next “woman problem”:
Why domestic abuse is only the beginning
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014 3:38 PM
MargoArrowsmith Patrick McEvoyHalston kiel Your reason for why cheerleaders is what,
exactly? Try and be imaginative.
Permalink




Original Article: NFL’s next “woman problem”:
Why domestic abuse is only the beginning
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014 3:29 PM
MargoArrowsmith There is a reality TV
show about the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. They
work as hard as the players do.
Why is this relevant? We all know that
McDonald workers work hard but this hasn't stopped a
lot of us from thinking they get what they deserve.
The preference for working hard is linked to our
insistence on paying a low pay--it has a masochistic
element, where we're eager to show how worn we are.
Permalink


Original Article: NFL’s next “woman problem”:

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Why domestic abuse is only the beginning
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014 2:20 PM
kiel Historically women cheered and jeered
men to prove their manhood by sacrificing themselves
in battle. At some level of the football fan's
imagination, these are not simply beauties but terrors
insisting on their blood .... "come back with your
shield or on it."
Women might compete for the role because
their relationship to the players might be a bit maternal
... the players become their boys sacrificing all and
accruing accomplishments for them.
Permalink


Original Article: Lena Dunham’s biggest lesson:
Why survivors’ stories alone will not end our
rape crisis
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2014 7:41 PM
It isn't just hearing about other stories,
though. Freud heard plenty of stories of child sexual
abuse--in fact so many he gauged it essentially the
Austrian norm--but it didn't lead him to think of its
damage. He estimated that since people seem to be
still functioning, it couldn't be that harmful.
What we are ultimately depending upon was
touched upon by Brittney Cooper early this year when
she discussed how childrearing has changed from her
grandmother's time, to her mother's, to her own, with
what had been prevalent -- beating the hell of children
to imprint discipline -- becoming spare and on the
very of disappearance (within her particular

324

generational string): Cooper pledges herself against
physical assault of children entirely. We are dependent
upon all those millennials out there whose parents
gave their children more love than their own parents
will able to provide them. These lot will simply care
more. They'll hear of abuse and pledge themselves
instantly to stopping it.
Children from unloving families can hear of
abuse and instantly put themselves into the position of
the perpetrator--they'll see the victim as deserving it. It
was their parents' position towards them, and they
internalized it, implemented it as an alter within their
heads, very early on to keep their parents as they
required them to be: right, just, and ultimately
protective so long as the child learned to behave.
As such, re-education requires coaching
them to be able to brace their parents' rejection,
which'll come to mind every time they're put in the
position of defending the vulnerable--that is, their
being abandoned as infants to the cold and surely to
death. It'll pit you against their superego and you'll
probably lose.
Permalink



Original Article: From hefty histories to chick lit:
What I learned from reading two decades’ worth
of NYT Notable Books lists
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2014 1:19 AM
susan sunflower Sorry you had a bad week,
Susan.
Permalink

325


Original Article: “It makes me really depressed”:
From UVA to Cosby, the rape denial playbook
that won’t go away
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2014 2:49 PM
Katie has elsewhere argued that most
women have a story where they were forced into sex.
That would mean that, what, maybe 20 percent of the
men out there are rapists? This could be true. Charles
Barkley and Brittney Cooper have both argued that
most black parents beat their children -- not just with
hands, but with belts and switches. Both tried to say
that this was done with good intentions, for the
ostensible benefit of the child, but this is the standard
rationalization of those who've been abused, so we can
read it the right way: most black parents physically
abuse their children. As Brittney says, to imprint
discipline into their skin.
Abuse is THAT prevalent in our society.
Because it's so often at the hands of our parents, we
have trouble deciding that abusers were wrong. It
would make us feel permanently abandoned by them;
it would make us feel set to be infanticided by them.
Freud knew the prevalence of children's sexual abuse
in Austrian society but decided it couldn't be that big a
thing because everyone would be hysteric. I think we
can look around at society and see that the results of
early abuse shows plenty. Men revenging themselves
against maternal incest through repeatedly attacking
women. Women returning the abuse they themselves
suffered onto their children. Projections onto "others"

326

who represent our own bad selves. People seeing
victims and believing they deserved what they got.
Permalink



Original Article: “It makes me really depressed”:
From UVA to Cosby, the rape denial playbook
that won’t go away
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2014 2:23 PM
As a culture, we are overwhelmingly
inclined to think that victims are lying when they say
they have been raped.
I am not sure about that. I think it's just that
we as a culture still subconsciously want there to be
abused people out there, and for them to flail about
without recompense.
Permalink


Original Article: Chris Rock’s economic
bombshell: What his “riots in the streets”
prediction says about the American Dream
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 9:12 PM
alterego55 Righteous anger is never based
on existing realities, but on early-suffered childhood
abuse. My vote goes for those who point to the health
reforms, the increases in minimum wages, gay
marriage, the legalization of marijuana, and sees a
block to the idea that what we need most is violent
revolution.
Permalink


Original Article: Chris Rock’s economic

327

bombshell: What his “riots in the streets”
prediction says about the American Dream

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 8:40 PM

DaveL Bladernr1001 But you're right.
Progressives are always the best loved in their
societies, the most evolved. They believe less that
there are "bad children" out there who deserve to be
abandoned and pained.

Original Article: Chris Rock’s economic
bombshell: What his “riots in the streets” prediction
says about the American Dream

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 8:39
PM
DaveL Bladernr1001 This is great. But it's not intelligence
that is key, but emotional health. I know you know this, but
every time we say intelligence suddenly a cold chess game
comes to mind; not enough the delight in seeing people
everywhere enjoying life, fully provided as one can
imagine.

Permalink
Original Article: Jian Ghomeshi’s quiet
accomplice: Why the CBC must be investigated, too

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 7:50
PM
Ellemm Christopher1988 sam louise Aranka Aunt Messy

When women are sexually harassed they're not admired for
standing up to the powers that be.
There's a certain drama about Christopher's description of

328

adult society that strikes me as worth exploring. He
describes it as knocks and blows, and if you can weather it
you're an adult and if you can't you're a coward.
What he is describing here though is not so much what is
intrinsically adult as what has traditionally been typical for
male children, who are engaged less by their mothers, and
thus experience fears of abandonment much greater than
female children do. Almost immediately, they come to
crave showing bravery in testing fields -- it's bravado; a
testing of fears and showing you can master them. As an
adult they crave perpetuation of just such an environment.
It's not adult, but the perpetuation of the atmosphere of
early childhood neglect.
"Adult" really ought to be nurturing; it's what our long
climb through generations has been about -- to create a less
traumatizing and more attendant and loving world. So
"adult" to me is someone like Alfie Kohn, who dislikes the
whole testing narrative and thinks people perform best
when given support and love. If we were living in his
"adult" environment, those claiming they were abused
would never be faced with the ramifications our own
childhood-neglect built need to believe we've been tested
and proven ourselves victorious.

Permalink

Original Article: Chris Rock’s economic
bombshell: What his “riots in the streets” prediction
says about the American Dream
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 7:22

329

PM
That dynamic won’t change until more Americans realize
that the American Dream today is just an empty promise.
At some level they know this, but they are atoning and so
want to be a Depression people who showed nobility and
dignity through suffering. During the Great Depression,
they continued their faith in working hard, at some level
knowing that whatever parental perpetrators in their life
would be pleased in their unwillingness to point fingers at
abusers.
After enough suffering, they collectively felt they were
allowed things again, and so the rich/poor divide collapsed,
plumbers making more than lawyers, the rich taxed at 80
percent.

Permalink
Original Article: Chris Rock’s economic
bombshell: What his “riots in the streets” prediction
says about the American Dream

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 6:47
PM
RoloTomassi Patrick McEvoy-Halston I'm not sure if this
was scribbled on the front page of Freud's Interpretation of
Dreams, it'd be a total winner. Then again, psychoanalysis,
while still a big deal in France, is less and less a thing in
this great sophisticated land of ours, so maybe Freud'd be
owned. "Shake ... and bake! my Austrian friend, shake and
bake."

Permalink

330

Original Article: Jian Ghomeshi’s quiet
accomplice: Why the CBC must be investigated, too

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 5:17
PM
glorrierose Patrick McEvoy-Halston We do live in a rape
culture. But more than this, we live in a culture where we
are sacrificing broad swaths of people, which includes the
poor and the young.

By this I'm perpetuating rape culture? Maybe you're
perpetuating sting culture ... going at people you don't
know like a wicked wasp and then leaving them to recover.

Permalink
Original Article: Jian Ghomeshi’s quiet
accomplice: Why the CBC must be investigated, too

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 3:25
PM
Christopher1988 Aranka Aunt Messy

I think the smart person would look around at our society
and really understand that we are living in a period of
sacrifice, where people seem to actually want a lot of
people to suffer without remedy. Your action will depend if
people will want to see you as one of those who's role is
just to suffer. So if you're a student, take a pause. If you're a
woman -- take a pause ... are you rich, someone
successfully leaning in? Or can you be categorized as
someone mid-level who's job is never safe?

331

If you're the latter, the narrative society will want to see is
your fall. You presumed to speak against abuse, and to
society, you represent the vulnerable child speaking up
against adult prerogatives. Right now, we see such a child
as simply self-indulgent, selfish, bad.
It would probably strike one that in such a society, when
someone suggests they take action which could be
discomforting and scary but which after all is what adults
do, they might being conned. For how much more ripe a
sacrifice is one who after being humiliated and shamed,
gets lead to hope by another huckster who sets her up so a
whole court can authorize her being discombobulated?
If it could, would such a society give such a gifted huckster
a gold key to the realm? He after all gets them naivety akin
to virgins.

Permalink

Original Article: Chris Rock’s economic
bombshell: What his “riots in the streets” prediction
says about the American Dream

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 2:38
PM
Benthead These people as children knew their parents were
happiest with them when they didn't complain that while
they were being neglected, their parents busied themselves
on gorging themselves. The rich are projections of their
own parents; those living in squalor are their own good

332

childhood selves, who are being "good" by not
complaining.
They understand the totality of what is going on. We just
don't appreciate the weird things children will do to feel
worthy of their parent's love.

Permalink
Original Article: Jian Ghomeshi’s quiet
accomplice: Why the CBC must be investigated, too

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 1:55
PM
I'm not sure if the problem is best described as rape culture.
I think we're going through a time where people at some
level understand certain people are being designated as
being able to get away with anything -- fixed in lofty
position, regardless of behaviour -- and others whose role is
to suffer without there ever being a remedy.

Living in an age where for so long we tolerated minimum
wage/part-time jobs for so many people, or the endless
testing and hundred thousand dollar debts for students,
without any guarantees, suggests to me that most of us
regretfully need to see at least one large delegated group
serve as our snuffing out. Something monstrous and awful
is freely forging on them, before our eyes, and
interminably, and we just can't bear to attract its notice by
speaking out.

Permalink

Original Article: Jian Ghomeshi’s quiet

333

accomplice: Why the CBC must be investigated, too

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2014 1:09
PM
Let's hope someone wrote the equivalent article in Canada.

Permalink
Original Article: I am utterly undone: My
struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2014
2:05 PM
everready voltairespen Patrick McEvoy-Halston If they're
black, I would tell them that there are swaths of people
who, owing to being unloved/hated as children, will project
onto people and actually enjoy hurting them. I would warn
them that in America many white families are unfortunately
some of the most unloving in the world, and those they
have traditionally projected on have been blacks. I would
tell them to take care, and move into regions where people
are generally more lovingly raised. Check out where twitter
showed the most outrage to this verdict, to inform your
decision as to where to head.

About cops, I would tell them that as we as a nation
increasingly grow and provide our citizens with healthcare
so fewer suffer, and change institutions so they work less to
enfranchise bigotry, we're moving towards a society where
cops seem an anachronism -- especially those with guns.
You should expect, that is, with society moving more and
more in a direction that does not satisfy the psychological
needs of those who usually apply for the police force, an
enormous amount of erratic behaviour, cops gone crazy.

334

You could be being decent and good, and some cop will
project all his personal demons onto you and see someone
that needs twelve bullets to be stopped.

Permalink
Original Article: I am utterly undone: My
struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2014
1:47 PM
voltairespen Patrick McEvoy-Halston I would recommend
they make sure that those who pledge them relief from
mediocrity by putting themselves on the front lines, get full
scrutiny.

Permalink

Original Article: I am utterly undone: My
struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2014
1:36 PM
voltairespen "They are lining up, linking arms, and being
locked up for justice. They are listening to those who have
something to say, and shutting down shit when forced to
listen to anyone who doesn’t. They are choosing their
leaders, their griots, their truth-tellers, their strategists, their
elders. Showing up matters most. Putting one’s body on
the line is the order of the day. They are undignified,
improper, unabashed, impolitic, unapologetic,
indefatigable.

More than 3000 new registered voters move among

335

them.They have collected these new registrations like so
many arrows in a quiver.
And Barack Obama is a broken symbol, a clanging cymbal,
unable to say and do anything of use.
This moment is about all of us. About what kind of
America we want to be. About what kind of America we
are willing to be, willing to fight for. About whether we
will settle for being mediocre and therefore murderous to a
whole group of citizens. About whether there are other
versions of ourselves worth fighting for.
Don’t sleep. Millennials, it seems, are the ones we have
been waiting for. Fearless and focused, the future they are
fighting for is one I want. It is high time to awake out of
sleep. Stay woke." (Britney Cooper)
She is advocating for warriors. She is urging millennials,
that is, young people, to lay down their lives. There is a
narrative she is hoping for which very much includes a
fantastic number of young people busted and beaten and
killed, as they purge themselves of their mediocrity and
become their best selves. This is war talk.


Permalink
Original Article: I am utterly undone: My
struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014 11:45

336

PM
Xanthro RoloTomassi omglolbbq Force, or calling for
charred White flesh, will never help Black society, because
all it does is drive away potential allies, while reinforcing
negative stereotypes that Black people are inherently
violent and unpersuaded by facts.
Except we see a lot of evidently progressive people
expressing themselves just as forcefully right now, so I
don't find your argument persuasive. What's happening
there is people reacting to being hit by taking an assertive
step forward: it thrills!
Brittney Cooper, though, has talked about a need for young
people to get ready to sacrifice themselves, to actually die
for this cause. She's talked about them forgetting about
living enriching lives, living better, more comfortably than
their parents, and become more like the elders who literally
spilt blood and who realized it wouldn't be for them, their
own benefit, that it was spilt. This is a problem. This is
young soldiers into WW1 talk.

Permalink
Original Article: I am utterly undone: My
struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014 11:28
PM
RoloTomassi Patrick McEvoy-Halston

What I know is that this powerful internet reaction owes
entirely to the fact that more and more Americans are being

337

raised with more care and love. So they're not racists -racists being those who were brutalized by their parents
making them project their own "bad" selves onto other
people and take enormous pleasure when they're humiliated
and destroyed.
Evolved people like this need to know that the narrative of
sacrifice is ultimately about purging too. Never, ever,
encourage young people to see virtuous status as accruing
to them if they subject themselves to the battlefield. Never
make love and respect something owing to those who
accumulate scars.
What do we do now? If we have the momentum, we'll
"carpetbag" the more racist parts of the world and stop
they're having any agency: they're after all only to be about
seeking righteous vengeance themselves, possibly forever
-- especially if the overall temper of our society continues
to evolve, leaving them without a societal exostructure to
help them "handle" their madness.
If we don't, we'll probably realize that we've got enough for
a country in all these progressive voices we're hearing, and
double-down on our efforts where we rule.
Ultimately, anything we do that means more love accruing
to the next generation, will be the most powerful thing we
do to work against societal racism.
Racists were brutalized as children; they're the victims of
sexual assault and abandonment. If you have to go

338

longterm it really helps to remember this. They're what
happens to those that get neglected.

Permalink
Original Article: I am utterly undone: My
struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014 10:23
PM
RoloTomassi kilfarsnar Nothing is gained without sacrifice,
and desperation without a viable alternative process is
usually the mother of such sacrifice.

Targeted action requires sacrifice: you end up looking
nothing like a warrior; you can't imagine your enemy
beaten to a pulp, thoroughly humiliated.
Plenty is gained without sacrifice. The fact that so many
Americans are upset about this verdict owes to them having
had parents who enjoyed their children's company more
than previous generations did, making them project less
and love more.
In my judgment, any time someone mentions sacrifice in
pursuit of a goal the real goalends up being the purge, the
sacrifice.

Permalink

Original Article: Bill Cosby’s media inferno:
On journalists reporting justice — and believing
victims
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 10:12

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PM
J. Nathan Patrick McEvoy-Halston You're welcome, J.
Nathan.

Permalink
Original Article: Bill Cosby’s media inferno:
On journalists reporting justice — and believing
victims

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 7:33 PM
pjwhite I have seen rape survivors go from being perceived
as pitiful and damaged to being seen as the courageous
heroes they are for speaking out.

I'm glad they had the self-esteem to speak out, but I'm not
especially happy about calling them courageous. All the
others that historically DID NOT speak out, weren't
(guiltily?) lacking what the others managed -- that is, a
show of courage against bullies. They were just products of
backgrounds that weren't going to fuel them the self-worth
to power on through; the abuse they
suffered, corroborated the sense of their worthlessness that
their parents installed in them.
Speaking out would not just make the abusers but their own
parents wrong, and you've got to have received a
considerable amount of love to readily manage that.

Permalink

Original Article: Bill Cosby’s media inferno:
On journalists reporting justice — and believing
victims

340

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 7:26 PM
Operation Enduring Boredom Patrick McEvoyHalston OEB, I've never had a sense that you actually
wanted me on this site, regardless of length of my posts. I
personally could do without interacting with you; I find you
corrosive.

Permalink

Original Article: Bill Cosby’s media inferno:
On journalists reporting justice — and believing
victims

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 3:55 PM
Part two:

We have “accumulating” two different psychoclasses, two
broad swaths of very different people -- one more lovingly
raised, one less. If the “less" wins, mostly determines the
emotional temper of our next number of years, everything
progressives have done to expand our awareness of how
many abusers there are out there can be used to justify a
pre-existing desire to cleanse the world of "bad" people. If
Katie McDonough's argument that almost every woman has
their own rape story becomes “understood” ... that there
arethat many men out there who are rapists; if we come to
understand that so many of us were victims of sexual and
physical assault as children ... if we as people who no
longer need to safeguard the abuser can look at our society
and recognize just how much our society is coloured by
sadism, the terrible defining destruction wrecked on our
fellow human beings, and we ultimately lose, we've laid
ground which the other side will takeover. Saying, “you're

341

right, but let me show you where this evil you’ve agreed
exists in plenty and must in this moment of clarity be
urgently vanquished, is actually mostconcentrated…”
And you'll have America involved in righteous bigotry.
You'll have Americans going from feeling compromised to
instantly pure again, forgetting all the self-improvement
they needed as all their “issues” become transplanted onto
the outside. Chastising progressives will lose their effect,
and blamed, for not thinking their issues through — at the
cost of lives. And the women “we’ll” be standing up for,
those accosted in cultures everywhere that progressives
have ostensibly drawn back from incriminating but to keep
their own cosmopolitan egos intact, will be in their own
minds childhood perpetrators they'll feel enormous joy in
protecting.
They can't be guilted, is what I’m getting at. That self
they'd begun to recognize that should feel shame and guilt
in denigrating vulnerable people, that increasingly
uncomfortable, caught-out self that recognized how much it
wanted women to know pain, would be gone as they know
themselves to in fact be willing to sacrifice their very lives
to keep their mothers from being pained at their children’s
ability and presumptuous willingness to see them plain —
to destroy them, Meghan Daum, truly
progressive,matricidal-style.

Permalink

Original Article: Bill Cosby’s media inferno:
On journalists reporting justice — and believing

342

victims
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 3:54 PM
Why did the responsibility change?

Historically, the most powerful and important perpetrators
in our own lives were our parents. Since as children we
absolutely had to imagine them as people who could love
us, be our protectors, our brains went quickly to work
making them right to have abused us, and ourselves wrong
for doing whatever we did. Since we actually didn't do
anything and were just attacked by our parents when they
switched into the brain states of their own perpetrator
parents and saw as full of their own projections, we are left
to conclude that it was just our vulnerability, our absolute
neediness, that was bad. To keep our parents, the urperpetrator, "right," perpetrators become automatically
good and the vulnerable deserving of abuse.
This is why the last people you should expect automatic
empathy for victims from is actually people who've been
abused as children. That interview we all saw where that
CNN interviewer drew his interviewee back into her
moment of sexual abuse and then tried to show her how the
facts show that even there she was being bad -- "why didn't
you bite his d--k off? -- is about what one should expect.
By humiliating her, by drawing her back into shame and
latching onto her there some hard-to-shake-off scold of
self-blame, he was at work, not protecting/shielding Cosby
but the primary childhood abusers in his own life -- his own
parents -- and thereby experienced a pat of approval so
meaningful your reproof of him would have little chance.

343

When perpetrators like Cosby (himself, guaranteed, a
victim of sustained child-abuse) are losing their protections
it's because some substantial part of our population has
begun to have childhoods where their parents stopped or
lessened their inclination to see their children as bad sh-ts
that needed discipline, terrors, abuse to be corralled into
being good. Some substantial part of our adult population
has known more loving childhoods, and don't as much see
their own childhood vulnerable selves as somehow having
deserved whatever abuse suffered. They then witness the
perpetrator and don't so much cow away but demand
dethroning, while mostly in fact thinking of the victims and
empathizing into the shamed states the brutalized had been
pitched into experiencing.
Brittney Cooper discussed recently how she was separating
herself from the long tradition she’d grown up amongst that
accepted "spanking" -- read, physical assault on the child -as the preferred way to raise children. We’re, our society’s,
experiencing something like that, but writ large. When
there's enough of us, those in the media who'd like to have
written something twenty years ago but who really would
have been eviscerated if they'd tried then, now have the
way in — we’re the audience who’s ready. Even if we still
can't shake that in going after outside perpetrators we’re
still involved in a discourse that's ultimately going to
implicate our own parents — again, the ur, the original, the
archetype perpetrator, for all of us — more of us have had
sufficiently less abandoning and terrifying childhoods that
we can withstand a rattling of what previously only

344

beckoned oblivion.
Andrew O'Hehir just wrote an article where he sees
perpetual stasis in an awful, hellish, late-capitalist society,
as our ongoing reality. Next presidential election, more of
the status quo, whomever gets elected. But we should
understand the downing of Cosby as evidence that people
are changing, not just in attitudes but in their well-being,
their make-up, their constitution. And systems change when
human nature changes, when better-loved people grow
beyond systems that were emotionally satisfying to their
less emotionally evolved, more pointless-punishment
accepting/unconsciously desiring, predecessors. Capitalism
moves from late to socialism when people stop needing for
there to be shelved amongst us — losers; when we stop
feeling satisfaction in such numbing, dream-deflating,
tempering categories like products, producers and
consumers. The sign that we may be moving towards
something profoundly good is more to be found in this new
response to abusers than I think in the apocalyptic anger
we'll likely also see a lot of in upcoming years.
This anger, I fear, will be fuelled by revenge against
childhood perpetrators as well — its ur-source — but its
constituents will not be like those repelled by Cosby ... it
will not be fuelled by those who knew less abuse, who
knew more love, but rather those who received so much
they still will feel the need to protect perpetrators and
destroy victims. Their ur and all-infiltrating source of
“perpetrator,” their parental terrorizers, will be split into
two, so only part of this parent is actually attacked while

345

the other part actually clung to ever-more loyally — its
destructive aspects, wholly denied; one’s own fierce anger
at them, just as much so. They'll be the equivalent of
soldiers who destroy encroaching predatory countries, lead
by an evil mastermind with a — to borrow from Sam
Harris — “mother-load” of feminine qualities, but who
cling to their approving nation like a knight-protector. And
all the "troops" destroyed ... will be full of projections of
their own childhood selves, their "sh-t selves," still horribly
bad, and worthy of any other name you’d be inclined to call
them. We'll see, in short, the 1930s, a move towards mass
action, mass participation, which could see threatened elites
and worried big businesses (hurray!), but also collective
agreement on the righteousness of bigotry — much of the
world issimply cretinous and bad, and in need of urgent
purging.
This new unwillingness to excuse the perpetrator for a great
reason is being matched by a very bad one. Because we're
seeing it of course in the slowly mushrooming anti-Muslim
movement ... amongst even progressives — there, the New
Atheism; people are feeling an increasing desire to project
onto others and destroy, and so are grabbing on. If it was
built out of the same energy you wouldn't have a
progressive, you wouldn’t have Camilla Gibb, in the same
article where she writes of how she left anthropology
because she couldn’t handle how aggressively harassing
Middle Eastern cultures were, conclude only how she was
going to stand up in future against future Ghomeshis, but
rather of course with her standing up against something that
would look to have her more associating with the New

346

Athiests — those ostensibly standing up against the larger
broad swath of abusers, whole cultures, in whole
continental regions: those, in their own minds, more
consistent, those being even more brave. That is, it would
of had her finish where her article obviously looked to be
directing her before she tightened it down only onto those
she’d find within her vicinity at a gala. She chastised her
own letting loose because it drew to mind phantoms of
those legions also standing up right now, but whom she
knows just aren’t up to what she is up to. Not at all. More
the opposite. More along the lines of Germans in the 30s.
Permalink

From "American Sniper" to ... "Triumph of
the Will"?
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_htLrYnherc/VMfIRF3LTHI/AAAAAAAAAgg/9zHhJBQ8CgI/s1600/americansniper-bradley-cooper-sam-jaeger.jpg

''American Sniper'' is a movie for those who enjoy
feeling protected and safely individuated—
disconnected from other people—rather than for
those eager to lose themselves into a brotherhood.
Chris Kyle is a sniper—his organs and privates are
always covered as he lies on the ground to ''snipe.''
He becomes a famous sniper—his fellow troops don't
see him so much as just one of them as a hero
protector who guarantees them victory. His mission
is not the same as everyone else's, as much as he
might pretend that it is: while the rest of the troops

347

take out the ordinaries, he is bound to face off against
the great devil Mustafa, who picks off vulnerable
soldiers like a death vulture pounced direct from the
sky. He can personally handle some adulation—one
soldier who hails him repeatedly as ''the hero'' before
the rest of the troops, is dealt with with a plate of
flung food, humbling the alert state of newly-drawn
attention with the drowsiness of the narratively
known—but when other's well-meant appreciation
means him feeling requited to receiving and
accepting, to him becoming a passive receptacle to
other's needs, PTSD lets him off the hook by making
background noise suddenly remind of traumatic
previous war encounters, and he's only half there to
receive anything. His wife has never had the
advantage of him. He approached her after attending
her shooting down the approach of another, and his
familiarity with her technique means he's able to
buttress whatever riposte she has left in her.
Thereafter he's involved in a war they both believe in,
so something along the lines of the devastating attack
James Wolcott levied against those who diminished
war-serving Salinger in favour of Lena Dunham, is
always at the ready, if need be.
But this is Eastwood when he's still pro-growth. He'll
do a film like ''Gran Torino,'' which suggests that in
becoming accustomed to Korean neighbours, the

348

curmudgeon main protagonist isn't so much adjusting
to the new as keeping fidelity with familiar values—
now housed in physically different people—but
which overall feels in favour of adaptation and
change. He'll do a film like ''Jersey Boys,'' which
lands us back in the conservative 1950s, but which
features a flamboyant gay producer who's portrayed
favourably—whip-smart, innovative, self-interested
but also overall a good friend. And he'll do
''American Sniper,'' which does lend support to the
liberal position that the government needs to fund
therapy for war-afflicted troops. When he tilts the
other way—and he will—he'll start doing films more
like ''Triumph of the Will,'' where there will be
nothing more gleefully forsaken than one's
individuality, and where the main protagonist will
gleefully catch any shared emotion you might want to
intermingle with him so you’re all that much more
''one.''
This change will occur because anyone who needed
to protect his own growth with defensive strategies,
came out of a early matrix that was smothering. Such
a matrix was also claiming ... and in abandoning it
one felt upon withdrawal its massive disapproval, its
accusation that you are a bad boy/girl who
deliberately abandoned a wholly selfless, endlessly
generous and provisioning source for flippant and

349

narcissistic—i.e. entirely selfish—reasons. One
cannot handle feeling abandoned, unworthy of one's
mother's—i.e. the ''mountain'' ground within the early
matrix—love forever ... accumulating before you is
how apocalyptic this first felt to you when you
experienced it as an infant, and it eventually drowns
whatever positive self-evaluation you've mustered for
yourself in your individuated adult life. So off is
shuck your distinctiveness, and you merge within a
body masochistically as but added cells to a corpulent
grand madame. You become like Germans when they
in the millions forsook their individuated, growing
Weimar selves—something wondrous but totally new
and heartily anxiety-provoking—and lost themselves
into the provincial stupidity of the ''volk.''
One of the interesting things that will happen is how
the idea of the sheepdog, the protector—a recurrent
idea in Eastwood's films—will change. In ''American
Sniper'' the idea was introduced not just to explain
the source of Kyle's behavioural inclinations but to
add another empowered patriarch into a scene—
Kyle’s dad instructed him to be a sheepdog—an
empowered patriarch felt by Eastwood to add a
barrier that could succeed against any giant, bloated,
maternal sea-monster's efforts to reach out of the
swamp and yank poor Kyle/Eastwood back into a
digesting stew. Those with any trepidation, those who

350

are frail, won't be seen as worthy of being guarded—
as they are to some extent in this film, perhaps most
especially with the marines, who didn't receive the
training the Seals did ... who just six months before
were civilians. They'll be seen as adding nothing to
the prowess of the group, as being vile for being
useless, and the protector's role will be to protect the
vitality of the group and expunge them—that is, in a
sense, to kill the sheep.
They'll be portrayed a bit like Kyle's younger brother,
whom Kyle is delighted with and proud to see
enlisted but whom the film shows as a pale shadow to
Kyle, and who's weak soul couldn't bear the tarnish
that a single tour would incur upon it. They'll seem
more like Mark Lee, who dies shortly after
questioning the wisdom of the war and the virtue of
warrior persistence, but that much more as a result of
their being in truth aliens that should have been
expunged from the brave collective effort of war that
much earlier. They'll seem a bit more like the
damaged vet who killed Chris Kyle, whom his wife
espied as a dark demon in vet-clothing as soon as she
spotted him, but who was clouded from acting to
save her glorious husband by the credibility of the
idea of keeping faith with the weak—a ''foul'' concept
"now" revealed as meaning that such a thing as the
greatest warrior in your history, would be left to be

351

downed by a fart of a man.
Eastwood will be vilifying the weak not just within
the group, but outside it. Within, the weak saps the
strength of the group, and is hated for that reason;
outside, the weak and vulnerable are guilty of
representing what you mostly were when you felt
targeted within the maternal matrix, and are therefore
targeted because you’re now completely in mind to
keep your mother unblemished in her holiness. So in
future films ''enemy'' children that are being targeted
by hero-snipers won't be targeted with trepidation,
but shot in the manner of how Kyle in real life
actually shot them—totally self-righteously: down
goes another little savage! … serve up another! And
since all villainy must be outside the group, all the
negative aspects of your mother must be projected
there as well. This means that in future films when
woman come into view needing to be shot for their
carrying bombs, we won't be meant to think of them
as tools of the men who commanded them—as we
are to a significant extent in this film— but as issuing
forth oblivion from out of their own selves. It'll mean
that the exotic persian Orientalism won't be found in
the "beautiful" Mustafa, the ''sheepdog'' sniper on the
side of the terrorists, but in the ''queen'' at the centre
of the hive—''the butcher''—''herself,'' who'll be made
to possess traits that identity ''her'' as our split-off

352

villainous mother.
''She'' won't be made to carry a purse, necessarily, but
''she’ll'' surely be made to lurch over a doomed child
in a way that can't help but remind of a witch adding
salt to the bare delicious exposed flesh of the helpless
child.
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Labels: exodus: gods and kings, film, movie, ridley scottShare to Facebook
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Perverse German Joy in Being Spared
Being Jew
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/gcaBijG8WVs/VLUigLhc0KI/AAAAAAAAAeM/Yrk9mRBoXNs/s1600/thumbR
NS-NAZI-GERMANY031914-427x340.jpg

Gotz Aly makes the argument in "Why the Germans?
Why the Jews?" that the reason Germans engaged in
wholesale slaughtering Jews in the late 30s to early
40s, owed to envy. According to Gotz, Germans
hated Jews because they were what they wanted to
be: successful, intelligent, adaptive to change —
thriving. I am hoping this doesn't quite seem right to
you because it isn't the case. That is, it is true that
Germans envied Jews ... but when they were doing
the actual slaughtering they were divorced from this
actually somewhat sane mindset — envy at least
recognizes that what one should want are things
which mean living more happily and freely — and

354

had only the mindset of justified persecutors. That is,
by that time they had ceased the mindset that no
doubt was prevalent in the Weimar part of the 20s
and 30s, and now saw in Jews, not properties to be
envied, but vile properties they truly wanted as much
distance from as possible.
Aly wants you to understand Germans in this period
as massive sinners — the kind of wretches God
would plunk a tombstone of ten commandments on
in some hopes of keeping in line. But his book does
point to evidence which suggests thinking of them
instead as damaged. He talks about upbringing,
about how harsh and strict German parents and
teachers were, beating kids mercilessly every time
they weren't obedient and deferent (Jews on the other
hand were well-known not only to be exemplary
students but unafraid to challenge authorities). He
mentions the fact of the high number of child deaths
per capita compared with Jews — a fact which
suggests a prevalent attitude of negligence,
disregard, by Germans towards their children —and
someone more attendant to what happens to children
who were raised within punitive households would
see this evidence as working against Aly's
conclusion: these children were, then, traumatized ...
and do you talk of the limitations of the broken child
— their inability to permit themselves to live freely,

355

their inclination to envy those who can —
therapeutically or crossly?
Germans had in fact the worst childrearing in all of
Europe. If you want a catalogue of the sorts of
tortures German parents inflicted on their children —
including such things as routinely starving them,
calling them "useless eaters," dominating them with
daily enemas, having them tied to bed posts when
"bad," throwing them into cold water for
"hardening," "forcing them to kneel for hours every
day against a wall while they [i.e. their parents] ate
and read, frightening them by dressing up in
terrifying ghost costumes and pretending to eat them
up and kill them for their transgressions" (DeMause,
Origins of War in Child Abuse 115), not just
spanking them but whipping them (with whips,
canes, and sticks) so hard they were put into comas,
explore the work of Lloyd DeMause, who cites some
of the same facts Aly does but offers not just
a morsel but the whole god-awful enchilada. But it
isn't primarily this which made them unable to
allow themselves to make use of the considerable
societal freedoms opened up to everyone during the
20s anywhere to the extent that Jews could. What
stopped them is implicit in these tortures but isn't
always — and in fact, routinely isn't — recognized
as being so. What stopped them is the fact of their

356

having parents who really did not love them, who
could only look at them in a non-punitive fashion
when they abandoned their efforts at self-growth and
focused entirely on pleasing their parents — serving
as means by which unloved parents might gather up
some of the love they failed to receive from their
own parents. What stopped them is that they were
possessed of parents who were much closer to the
terrible dark norm for homo sapiens — those born
hundreds of thousands of years ago — than the
vastly more evolved Jews were.
The norm for homo sapiens wasn't to love their
children. It's hard to imagine this, because even from
their start weren't they mammals, hairy, cuddly
creatures that lick and nurse and hold their young? ...
such is the influence of romanticized images of
animals we garner in our childhoods now, when
before it was wolves and beasts that snatch children
away in the night. For us to get a realistic picture it's
best to picture them as almost pre-mammal and part
of their predecessors' reptilian world, spun through
with slithering things, a "place" where we could
imagine them as unloving as the cold world around
them and as only interested in their children as
evolution could buy their self-interested attentions
with. Children gained the attention they needed to
survive by functioning as "erotic, tension-reducing"

357

(DeMause, "Emotional Life of Nations" 401)
objects. This means that the norm for the child was
to be used incestuously. This was what all the
attention was that anthropologists noted primitive
cultures "lavished" upon their children, and explains
why after constant erotic feedings of them while they
are on the breast, parents had difficulty
understanding their children even needed food while
off it. The "heart of darkness" was the lack of love
our hearts got — that never-to-be-properly-filled
hole. It was also the apocalyptic experience, the
horrible, absolutely intolerable aloneness that visited
us when we began to focus on our own needs ... for
when we did this, began to grow, our parents
imagined us as their own brutally cold parents,
imagined us as leaving them
intentionally ... deliberately, as their own parents
actually did them. And suddenly they withdrew any
attention to us at all .... became to us "gods"
unmistakably informing us that everything we
depended on would be removed, leaving us
forlorn wastrels in a blasted land, if we didn't
immediately abandon what we were doing and go
back to functioning as parts of them.
When Germans "evolved" from just envying them
to slaughtering Jews, they were making use of one of

358

the "great" inventions absolutely necessarily created
from out of our earliest predecessors' minds:
projection, emptying out of all our "bad" stuff into
someone else. At some point all the freedoms
Weimar society enabled — and that was primarily
what Weimar Germany was, a "land" that brought
down previous societal blockages and offered a new
turf affording amazing things for those who weren't
freedom-fearing — could no longer be tolerated by
the Germans, and they retreated into provincialism
and projected all the parts of themselves
which threatened their feeling completely abandoned
into the most logical vehicle — the Jews. Germans
were trying new things; they were, for awhile at
least, abandoning old ways, even if in a terribly
watered-down form compared with what the Jews
managed. And by emptying all of this from
themselves and into the Jews, via projection, they
felt "objects" that their parents, that their mothers,
could "love" — or perhaps more accurately, at least
not wholly reject — again.
They looked at Jews and saw in ripened form every
single trait that if they possessed, would lead to their
parents absolutely despising them. If they were sane,
as we understand sanity, they should still be envying
them — because these traits are what lead to a truly
happy life, rather than one simply relieved of

359

attentions from the passing-by predator. But because
they were part of what counts as sane only to our
terribly primitive and cruel origins, where love and
demon-free vision had barely entered the world, they
could not have been more delighted to be spared
being Jew.
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Labels: American Sniper, chris kyle, Clint Eastwood, film, movie, triumph of the will
Friday, January 23, 2015
Clint Eastwood's comfort zone, in "American Sniper"
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/9LTPpbBOc4Y/VMJcpkO2rcI/AAAAAAAAAgA/GvGlEBVJSYY/s1600/20141003_American
Sniper1.jpg
Clint Eastwood feels comfortable when men can rule the public sphere and women can be
ushered into the domestic. He feels that the idea of male authority is so vulnerable right now,
deemed so deservedly vulnerable, that if you pointed to any instance of it with praise carelessly,
you might find yourself linked to something just about to be devoured into a hole where devil
jezebels will take it to pieces for its rape-enabling vibe. So he makes a film set in the era of the
1950s—"Jersey Boys”—where ostensibly it's not "your" preference but just realistic to delineate
the journey of a band where everyone in authority is a man, and where its not your revenge
dream come true but just realistic to show the fate of the agitated woman who marries the leader
of the band to become a housewife who bounces of walls into craziness. And when he makes his
next film, he escapes North America entirely, and goes perhaps to the one place where we can
make male control not seem a conscious artifice but rather presumed—where one's enjoyment of
patriarchy becomes almost a subliminal satisfaction, outside of critique because like the 1950s,

360
it's just the way the world is—and where ready avenue exists to back off female complaint and
indeed shame women back into the role of supplicants. He heads off for war-zone Iraq.
Eastwood doesn't want to seem like outcast-from-Hollywood-society Mel Gibson, which he
would have if he made a film which overtly made it seem as if the war in Iraq was right and that
those who responded by signing up were simply the bravest, most loyal of Americans. So what
he does is appear to be playing to the liberal belief that those who signed up were simply
ignorant, uninformed—good but simple: they were people who knew no other than mainstream
news and who'd been indoctrinated into a belief system that the best way to carry out their
genuine intention to be good was to be support the war effort. Liberals, who usually want to
castigate "rednecks," disarm this way of thinking of them and switch into another when one
provokes the idea of corporate/media control, then suddenly they're not people who deserve to
be shamed and insulted for their regressive mindsets but rather protected ... they're just simple
people being manipulated by powers much greater than they, whom liberals must do their best to
educate. Chris Kyle, who's been raised to be someone who values being a "sheepdog," someone
who protects the weak, who knows he has a god-given talent with a gun, and who understands
participation as only something done in the dust-swirling tempest of immediacy and direct
action, sees on tv the two towers being brought down and knows the right thing to do is to go
where-ever "savage-hiding" desert his nation tells him people responsible for this atrocity can be
found. And in the course of serving, he will incur PTSD, an affliction liberals like to think of as
making these naive, uneducated men damaged, ruined ... as used and cast-aside by a corporate
society that pretends faith with them but really doesn't give one damn.
Eastwood has his way into making a film assuming a reasonably 'cross-Hollywood sympathetic
approach to Kyle, and he uses this proxy to re-experience a good part of what was comfortable
for him about the 1950s. No where in this environment is there any family which isn't clearly
under the dominion of men. A woman and a child come into Kyle's sights as possibly
carrying explosive devices, but we were shown their being sent there first by a man from his
cellphone. A woman presents her wounds to Kyle to show the degree of savagery of "the
butcher," but she was ushered to by her husband, who more or less snapped his fingers to acquire
her summons. Kyle notices that a man they're dining with has bruised elbows—and therefore is
likely not the civilian he claims to be but a soldier—but the fact of his being at the head of the
table, with his son by his side, and with his wife, barely a presence, quietly taking away and
bringing dishes, is meant to be outside our critical appraisal, like it would be if we were of the
1950s and were in the 1950s.
Kyle is very hardworking and genuinely shown to be, if not keeping civilization intact, certainly
doing good work—killing brutal men who'd drill holes in children and the like—and Eastwood
makes PTSD serve merely what hardworking 50s men were ostensibly afflicted with after their
arduous daily grind, battling other men in a competitive society and keeping their families afloat.
1950s men could not help but "bring work home" too ... and that's why social norms had it that
the wives' full-time occupation once their husbands were home was to nurse them: not to
confront them with the problems arising from their own day but bring them drinks, serve them
dinner, soothe them down and spoil them—then, and only then, would the daily toil accrued
from the outside world be met and matched. If a wife instead started screeching, berating her
overworked husband and betraying the role society needed of her, she could expect to be shamed
for it ... just like Kyle's wife would be shamed, if on the phone to Kyle she started harping on
what his being away was doing to her and he responded, "What was that dear? ... I couldn't hear
you for my jeep turning over and my buddy just being shot through the head."
Eastwood embraces the idea of PTSD only because it can suggest stature rather than weakness.

361
If you have a heavier case of it, it's surely because you've been out on the field longer, endured
more of an unsparing environment ... a frail-looking, elder therapist notes that Kyle has had 180
kills, and you wonder if he's thinking more on how to treat him or how to become the faintest
shadow of him. One of Kyle's good friends, the fellow sniper Mark Lee, remarks that war is
something like kids proving themselves by seeing how long they can hold on to an electric wire,
but when he dies shortly afterwards it does seem to be out of Kyle's supposition that he was no
longer ready to meet the daily grind. He's disillusioned, but the film provides no reason for it:
there are plenty of very bad guys out there, and if you're not at your best, good men on your side
will die for it.
In short, Mark Lee makes it seem as if being a soldier is like being a salesman out of "Death of a
Salesman," you just go on to prove you're strong when what you are really are is being depleted,
to no point, while no one else out there cares. Kyle's retort is what a buoyed 1950s salesman
would winningly reply to this 1930s—"Death of a Salesman" is about someone working in the
Great Depression—world view: "What on earth are you talking about? We keep at it because
we're needed and it's our job. It's just that simple."

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http://3.bp.blogspot.com/3XJJPyXC3Cc/UzELBA_n7RI/AAAAAAAAAVg/nLzV1PinH4I/s1600/rs_1024x
759-130719130320-1024.divergent2.mh.071913.jpg
Or jump ship as fast as possible ...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rae3rHp30E/UzEFmJCUOOI/AAAAAAAAAVI/ywfrS89SJ90/s1600/Unknown.jpeg
And be this?

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/vm3xnq0g_D0/UzEFoP9ybdI/AAAAAAAAAVQ/ql74djoGiBQ/s1600/divergent
-movie-image-high-res-10.jpg
Or this?

Hmmm ...

362

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Labels: lars von trier, nymphomaniac, Richard BrodyShare to Facebook

Impossible to defend
Andrew O’Hehir wrote:
[…]
Instead, I’d rather go beneath the surface to look at the
structural function of these stories – the role they play in the
cultural economy – where I think we can identify even more

363

intriguing similarities. Both “Divergent” and “The Hunger
Games” are fundamentally works of propaganda disguised as
fantasy or science fiction. They’re not propaganda on behalf
of the left or the right, exactly, or at least not the way we
generally use those words in America. They are propaganda
for the ethos of individualism, the central ideology of
consumer capitalism, which also undergirds both major
political parties and almost all American public discourse. It’s
an ideology that transcends notions of left and right and
permeates the entire atmosphere with the seeming naturalness
of oxygen in the air. But at least if we acknowledge that it is
an ideology, we can begin to understand that it limits political
action and political debate, and restricts the heated warfare
between Democrats and Republicans to a narrow stretch of
policy terrain.
To begin with, if we accept the maxim that all fictional works
about the imagined future are really about the present, what do
these works have to say? They contain no intelligible level of
social critique or social satire, as “1984” or “The Matrix” do,
since the worlds they depict bear no relationship to any real or
proposed society. Where, in the contemporary West, do we
encounter the overtly fascistic forces of lockstep conformity,
social segregation and workplace regimentation seen in these
stories? I’m not asking whether these things exist, or could
exist, I’m asking where we encounter them as ideology, as
positive models for living.
In the world modeled by Apple and Facebook and Google, the
answer is pretty much nowhere. The organization-man
stereotype is universally mocked, from corporate boardrooms
to political debates to beer commercials. They serve the
function Emmanuel Goldberg served for Big Brother. Every
CEO who’s spent decades in the executive suite is told he

364

must rebrand himself as a maverick; the entire drama of the
2012 election involved Mitt Romney’s hilarious efforts to
make himself look like an outsider. Every right-thinking
person in our age knows her survival depends on her selfbranding; we are all meant to be entrepreneurs, innovators,
rebels, free spirits. The insistent theme of the consumerist
economy is that we are all “divergent,” the cool-sounding
label that renders Woodley’s character an outcast, and that the
mechanism of the market is calibrated to thrum to our unique
personal frequency.
So, no, the oppressive future societies depicted in “Divergent”
and “The Hunger Games” are not allegorical representations
of the present, whatever Tea Partyers may tell you. (Please
observe: I am not saying there is no danger of fascism in
America. But it will come in a prettier package.) Rather, they
are exaggerated frames placed around works of social praise,
or panegyric, to use the Athenian term, works designed to
remind us how grateful we should be to live in a society
where we can be “ourselves,” where we can enjoy unspecified
and entirely vague freedoms. In both cases, this message
arrives entangled with the symbolism of female
empowerment, which lends a contemporary flavor and makes
the pill go down easier. Whether that makes the pseudofeminism of these stories an integral part of that message I’m
not sure, but there’s little doubt that over its history feminism
– once conceived as a social or communitarian philosophy –
has acclimated itself to the individualist world order.
[…]
The model of individualism presented as so noble and so
embattled in these oxygen-propaganda movies is in fact the
authoritarian ideology of our time, the instrument used by the
1 percent to drive down wages, dominate and distort the

365

political process and make all attempts at collective action by
those below look stodgy, embarrassing and futile.
(“Divergent” and “HungerGames” are capitalist agitprop,
Salon.com)
Patrick McEvoy-Halston
I appreciate but am not certain about this analysis. My
concern would be that if people in mass can't realize that the
people supposed to be divergent actually aren't; if it doesn't
concern them that every other person reading the book and
everybody to the side, back, and in front of them in the theater
is convinced they'd be one of the rare-bird divergents as well;
then these aren't a very healthy stock of people. I'm not afraid
they're malleable; but that they're built to sacrifice themselves
for a group-hug.
I appreciate the observation that we won't know fascism when
it arrives -- if we want it, it'll have to overtly seem the very
opposite of every form we're familiar with; it'll have to come
with no guilt. Fascism came to Germany, though, with people
turning on Weimar individualism, its spiritual emptiness -- I'm
guessing its materialism. I'm wondering that we might
actually be entering a time where something still worthy is
going to look increasingly impossible to defend. Wouldn't it
have been better if Weimar Germany, with all its ostensible
decay, had just continued? That Germany didn't go down the
path it did in the 30s and "evolve" into the Volk, where you
didn't contribute to secretly distinguish yourself but to display
an orientation you wanted to be commonly shared; and instead
capitalist individualism continued its day until about the
1960s, where collectivism took a form we can totally get
behind?

366

It concerns me that people like Chris Hedges has such a
problem with the 1960s for its individualism -- it heavily
qualifies his genuine appreciation for the progressive
movements then. It concerns me that Thomas Frank has such
a problem with the liberal professional class, making them
seem so egotistical and greedy. I don't trust the public mood,
nor that our most regressive couldn't switch on a dime to
hardly caring a damn about austerity measures, nor keeping
afloat a 1% -- neither of which the Nazis gave one wit about.
Under their leadership, Germany recovered form the
Depression first.
Thanks for the interesting review; the good prompt to think
some.
--Patrick McEvoy-Halston
I'll add that I'm certainly not making open-praise for
individualism, just for people to be raised with sufficient love
and nurturance that they possess a ripe, distinctive personality
-- a well-developed soul. Only that the form of collectivism I
liked in the 1960s seems almost hated by what's arising in the
left for it's MEism -- these hippies were full of themselves,
narcissitic -- gorged down on peace, happiness, and
togetherness; and then when in the mood for it, coastal homes,
expensive foreign cars, kids in distinguished private schools!
It was always, mostly about them, the increasingly confident
new "old left" is deeming them.
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I listen to them and posit them as naturally oriented into that
group in "Divergent" that everyone in the film has the sense to
walk as far away as they can from -- the monkish, selfabnegating one, where people are afraid to temper their bare
food with seasoning.
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Labels: dauntless, divergent, erudite, veronica roth

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 - Pepper kills Killian by Almin Agic

Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives Clip 2

Nebraska

Nebraska Movie Featurette - Kate Grant

369

Superman: Man of Steel

Man of Steel 2013 - Faora UI Fight Scene HD

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Wolverine

THE WOLVERINE Movie Clip "YUKIO"

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Kirk and Uhura - Star Trek Into Darkness Clip

The Counselor

370

The Counselor Blu-Ray Clip - That´s What Greed Is (HD) Penelope Cruz,
Cameron Diaz

Filth

Filth Movie CLIP - Hit Me Bruce (2013) - James McAvoy, Imogen Poots
Movie HD

Lee Daniel's The Butler

Lee Daniel's The Butler CLIP - "Dinner Table" (2013) HD - Oprah

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim: Candidate Trials (Raleigh vs Mako)

371

12 Years a Slave

12 YEARS A SLAVE "Where You From ?" Movie Clip # 3

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Movie CLIP - I'm Not Crazy (2014) - Keira
Knightley Movie HD

*****
Draw, or loss to the woman, owing to "the boy" IDing
himself as loyal to mom, or as saving a nation / world, or
some other epic excuse.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Desolation Of Smaug - Scene with Kili and Tauriel.

372

Thor: The Dark World

Marvel's Thor: The Dark World - Clip 4

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness HD - Spock/Uhura's "Talk" & Kronos Chase

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - Couples Therapy Clip

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Labels: 2013 movies

373

Friday, January 24, 2014

2013 Movies, accompanied by text from
Lloyd DeMause

"Her"
The power of this fusion fantasy can be seen in a
simple experiment that has been repeated over and over
again by Silverman and his group. They showed subliminal
messages to hundreds of people, and found that only one
—"MOMMY AND I ARE ONE”—had an enormous
emotional effect, reducing their anxieties and pathologies
and their smoking and drinking addictions
measurably. “Daddy and I are one” had no effect.

"Iron Man 3"
Warriors become fused with the powerful mother that
masturbated them during menstruation; they then decorate
themselves with menstrual blood-red paint so they can
appropriate the fearful power of their Killer Mothers.
Wars in early civilizations are fought on behalf of and
against Killer Goddesses, bloodthirsty mothers like Tiamat,
Ishtar, Inanna, Isis or Kali. Typical is the Aztec mothergoddess Hiutzilopochtli, who had “mouths all over her
body” that cried out to be fed the blood of soldiers.

374

Scholars of antiquity conclude: “The oldest deities of
warfare and destruction were feminine, not masculine.”
Jungian analysts called her the Terrible Mother archetype, a
Dragon-Mother with “a mouth bristling with teeth…so that
it may devour us.” Ovid captures the mother of antiquity
by picturing Pentheus crying out “Oh Mother, gaze at me!
She screamed at him, and shook her flying hair. Then
Agave ripped his head from fallen shoulders, raised it
up [and] cried, ‘Here is my work, my victory.’”
That wars and sacrifices also act out the child’s revenge
against the mother can be seen in the details of the sacrifice
of women (about a third of all the sacrifices), where female
victims first make a prodigious show of their female
power, then are laid down on their backs and their breasts
cut open and their bodies torn apart. The two aspects of the
Killer Goddess are demonstrated when the Aztec warrior
takes the sword that he had used to behead the Goddess
victim and “terrifies and annihilates our enemies with it.

"Gravity"
Furthermore, the weight of the fetus pressing down into the
pelvis can compress blood vessels supplying the placenta,
producing additional placental failure. Practice contractions
near birth give the fetus periodic "squeezes," decreasing
oxygen level even further, while birth itself is so hypoxic
that "hypoxia of a certain degree and duration is a normal

375

phenomenon in every delivery," not just in more severe
cases. The effects on the fetus of this extreme hypoxia are
dramatic: normal fetal breathing stops, fetal heart
rate accelerates, then decelerates, and the fetus thrashes
about frantically in a life-and death struggle to liberate
itself from its terrifying asphyxiation.
It is one of the most basic principles of psychoanalysis that
massive quantities of stimulation, particularly intensely
painful experiences, result in a severe "trauma" for the
individual, particularly when the ego is too immature to
prevent itself from being overwhelmed by the affects. That
fetal distress is traumatic can hardly be doubted, as the
fetus has as yet none of the psychological defense
mechanisms to handle massive anxiety and rage. Therefore,
as psychoanalysts long ago found true of all
traumatizations-from early enema-giving to war-time
shocks or concentration camp experiences-the psyche then
needs to endlessly re-experience the trauma in a specific
"repetition compulsion" which, as Greenacre first pointed
out, is similar to "imprinting" in lower animals. As no
psychic apparatus is as open to trauma as that of the
helpless fetus, no repetition compulsion is as strong as that
which results from the "imprinting" of the fetal drama of
repeated feelings of asphyxiation, blood pollution, and
cleansing, climaxed by a cataclysmic battle and a liberation
through a painful birth process. Although the form that this
endlessly repeated death-and-rebirth fetal drama takes in
later life is determined by the kind of childrearing which is
experienced, the basic "imprinted" fetal drama can
nevertheless always be discovered behind all the other

376

overlays, pre-oedioal or oedipal.
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The "imprinted" fetal drama, then, is the matrix into which
is poured all later childhood experiences, as the child works
over the basic questions posed by his experiences in the
womb: Is the world hopelessly divided between nurturant
and poisonous objects? Am I to be eternally helpless and

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dependent on the life-giving blood of others? Must all good
feelings be interrupted by painful ones? Do I always have
to battle for every pleasure? Will I have the support and
room I need to grow? Can one ever really rely on another?
Is entropy the law of my world, with everything doomed to
get more crowded and polluted? Must I spend my life
endlessly killing enemies?

"12 Years a Slave"
It is only when one realizes that we all carry around with us
persecutory social alters that become manifest in groups
that such unexplained experiments as those described in
Stanley Milgram's classic study Obedience to Authority
become understandable. In this experiment, people were
asked to be "teachers" and, whenever their "learners" made
mistakes, to give them massive electric shocks.
The "learners," who were only acting the part, were trained
to give out pained cries even though the "electric shocks"
were non-existent. Of the 40 "teachers," 65
percent delivered the maximum amount of shock even as
they watched the "learners" scream out in pain and plead to
be released, despite their having been told they didn't
have to step up the shock level. The "teachers" often
trembled, groaned and were extremely upset at having to
inflict the painful shocks, but continued to do
so nonetheless. That the "teachers" believed the shocks
were real is confirmed by another version of the experiment
in which real shocks were inflicted upon a little puppy, who

378

howled in protest; the obedience statistics were similar.
Social scientists have been puzzled by Milgram's
experiments, wondering why people were so easily talked
into inflicting pain so gratuitously. The real explanation is
that, by joining a group-the "university experiment"-they
switched into their social alters and merged with their own
sadistic internalized persecutor, which was quite willing to
take responsibility for ordering pain inflicted upon others.
Their "struggle with themselves" over whether to obey was
really a struggle between their social alters and their main
selves. Although many subsequent experiments varied the
conditions forobedience, what Milgram did not do is try the
experiment without the social trance. If he had not framed
it as a group experience, if he had simply on his
own authority walked up to each individual, alone, and,
without alluding to a university or any other group, asked
him or her to come to his home and give massive
amounts of electric shock to punish someone, he would not
have been obeyed, because they would not have switched
into their social alters. The crucial element of
the experiments was the existence of the group-asterrifying-parent, the all-powerful university. Not
surprisingly, when the experiment was repeated using
children-who go into trance and switch into traumatized
content more easily than adults-they were even more
obedient in inflicting the maximum shock. Subjects were
even obedient when they themselves were the victims: 54
percent turned a dial upon command to the maximum limit
when they had been told it was inflicting damage upon their
ears that could lead to their own deafness, and 74 percent

379

ate food they thought could harm them, thus confirming
that they were truly in a dissociated state, not
just "obeying" authority or trying to hurt others, and that it
was actually an alternate self doing the hurting of the main
self. The only time they refused to obey was
when experimenters pretended to act out a group rebellion,
since the social trance was broken. Milgram could also
have tested whether it was simple obedience that was really
being tested by asking his subjects to reach into their
pockets and pay some money to the learners. They would
have refused to do so, because they weren't "obeying" any
old command, they were using the experimental situation
to hurt scapegoats.

"Filth"
The only neurobiological condition inherited by boys that
affects later violence is they have a smaller corpus
callosum, the part of the brain that connects the right and
the left hemisphere. The larger corpus callosum of infant
girls allows them to work through trauma and neglect more
easily than boys. Furthermore, boys who are abused had a
25 percent reduction in sections of the corpus callosum,
while girls did not. This means boys actually need more
love and caretaking than girls as they grow up. If they do
not receive enough interpersonal attention from their
caretakers they suffer from damaged prefrontal cortices
(self control, empathy) and from hyperactive amygdalae
(fear centers), their corpus callosum is reduced further,

380

and they have reduced serotonin levels (calming ability)
and increased corticosterone production (stress hormone).
All these factors make them have weak selves,
reduced empathy, less control over impulsive violence and
far more fears than girls.
The central psychobiological question, then, is this: Are
boys given more love and attention than girls by their
caretakers in order to help them offset their greater needs?
The answer, of course, is just the opposite: boys are given
less care and support, from everyone in the family and in
society, and they are abused far more than girls, so by the
time they are three years of age they become twice as
violent as girls. Boys’ greater violence by this time,
including their propensity to form dominance gangs and to
endlessly “play war,” are the results of their greater
abuse and distancing by adults and being subject to
demands to “grow up” and “be manly” and “not be a
crybaby” and not need attachment —attitudes taught by
their parents, teachers and coaches. By age four boys’ play
is full of provocations that test their selfworth: “At 4 years
of age, girls’ insults to one another are infrequent
and minor…Boy/boy insults, however, are numerous and
tough.” The so-called “aggressiveness” usually ascribed to
boys is in fact wholly defensive, as they try to ward off
their greater feelings of insecurity and hopelessness. It
isn’t “aggression” males display; it’s bravado—defensive
testing and disproof of their fears.
The mother, of course, is the focal point of this widespread
distancing and insecure attachment pattern. High levels of

381

violence and of testosterone have been shown to be
associated with poorer relationships with mothers, not
fathers, since mothers are the primary caretakers in most
families (even in America today, fathers spend only an
average of eleven minutes a day with their children). It is
not just genetics but more importantly maternal
environment that Tronick and Weinberg blame when they
see from their studies that “Infant boys are more
emotionally reactive than girls. They display more positive
as well as negative affect, focus more on the mother,
and display more signals expressing escape and distress and
demands for contact than do girls.” This is because from
infancy boys are expected to “just grow up” and not need
as much emotional care as girls—indeed, boys are regularly
encouraged not to express any of their feelings, since this is
seen as “weak” or “babyish” in boys. While mothers may
sometimes dominate their little girls and expect them to
share their emotional problems, they distance their boys by
not making contact with them and expect them to “be a
man.” This begins from birth: “Over the first three
months of life, a baby girl’s skills in eye contact and mutual
facial gazing will increase by over 400 percent, whereas
facial gazing skills in a boy during this time will
not increase at all.” Boys grow up with less attachment
strengths because careful studies show that mothers look at
their boys less, because both parents hit their boys two or
three times as much as they do their girls, because boys are
at much higher risk than girls for serious violence against
them, and because boys are continuously told to be
“tough,” not to be a “wimp” or a “weakling,” not to be
“soft” or a “sissy.” As Tom Brown told his chum when he

382

wanted him to appear more manly: “Don’t ever talk about
home, or your mother and sisters…you’ll get bullied.” Real
boys don’t admit they need their mothers. When William
Pollack researched his book Real Boys’ Voices, he asked
boys “Have you ever been called a ‘wuss,’ ‘wimp,’ or
‘fag’? ‘Oh, that,’ one boy said. ‘That happens every day. I
thought it was just a part of being a boy!’” Another said,
“Boys are just as sensitive as girls are, but we’re not
allowed to show our feelings. We’re put in this narrow box
and if we try to break out, we’re made fun of, or
threatened.’” Pollack accurately shows boys are not
more “aggressive”—they are just more often shamed if
they show their feelings. He accurately says “bravado is a
defense against shame we too often mistake for ‘badness’
what is really covert sadness and frustration about having
to fulfill an impossible test of self.” This intense sadness
and rage at being abandoned is deeply unconscious,
dissociated—what Garbarino terms “the emotional amnesia
of lost boys.”

But the crucial variable is the distancing and lack of care
given to boys by most mothers in all societies. Whether it is
because mothers are female and can more closely identify
with the needs of their girls or because the boys are male
like their husbands and are blamed for their failings and
lack of help in child care or any one of dozens of other
reasons that we will examine in the next chapter, mothers

383

teach their boys that “it is not enough to separate from her;
he must make a total, wrenching split [and] exorcise any
aspect of his mother from his own personality….The battle
between establishing distance and clinging to
dependence takes hold of a boy almost at the moment that
he learns to differentiate himself from his mother or sister
as a male, rather than a female.” The only way boys
sometimes are allowed to get close to their mothers is when
they are sick—times that are remembered by men as
blissful since only then can they admit their desperate
need for nurturing. In contrast, “over 80 percent of the men
in my study remembered a recurring childhood nightmare
of coming home from school and finding their mothers
gone. With mounting terror, the little boy would run from
room to room looking for his mother…most of the men
described memories of a deep loneliness, feelings of being
totally helpless.”
Texts
"Foundations of Psychohistory"
"Emotional Life of Nations"
"The Origins of War in Child Abuse"
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Labels: 12 Years a Slave, DeMause, filth, gravity, her, inside llewyn davis, iron man 3, lloyd
demause

384

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
I admire mainstream films where people are shown
behaving in ways you can learn from, draw strength from.
In the "Hobbit," one example is my favorite part of the
film. After Thorin declares that Bilbo took advantage of
being left all alone to leave for home, Bilbo is shown
ruminating over what Thorin just accused him of; and, after
cancelling his invisibility and becoming visible to the
company, offers an inspiring, considered reply. First of
course he responds warmly to the dwarves' cheering his
return, but after Thorin asks/presses him on why he indeed
did come back, he acknowledges Thorin's cause to doubt
him -- his love of his home is such, he realizes, that it's
appropriate for those forlorn of one to gauge he'd
eventually flee for his like-sake at some point -- but also
shows him as understanding that having long known a
home attractive enough to bait one back is also what leant
him the well-being to ultimately go without a bit longer, so
to help those destitute of knowing this bliss. With this reply,
he's fair to himself, and to his antagonist. Both gave one
another something so that afterwards "they wouldn't be the
same," however much it really was Bilbo who lead the way.
I admire how Kirk in the new Star Trek films, while wholly
convincing as a captain, someone appropriately at the helm,
can seem respectful when his own authority is being
breached by something arisen that possibly deserves

385

attention at that point more than he does; something that
might actually be tethering out an alternative action with
enough momentum and enough to it that he will end up
seeing sense in just obliging it. He can stop himself, when
something maybe more relevant and interesting is asserting
itself, which will cue more overall and perhaps more
multidimensional development. In "Into Darkness," Kirk
does better when, rather than aggressively lead an attack,
his mood shifts to just watching and taking in Khan. In the
battle with the Klingons, Kirk stopping to just take in the
incredible destructive wrath Khan was wrecking is him sort
of recognizing that something so unaccounted for is taking
place he might be better off forgoing his own involvement
with the melee to let Khan handle it -- amidst the great
surge of stimuli, he still discerned Khan's seeming to have
an ability like a chess-master to see the outcome twenty
moves ahead, so his own initiative has been instantly
supplanted to maybe just nuisance. And with this, he
reinforces the part of him which would stop his just being a
pawn with a rank. When both he and Khan are about to
project themselves through space, Kirk, sensing Khan's
percipience bespeaking more leadership than whatever
commands he was forcing over Khan's own, reacts showing
he understands his wisest play is again going to be to watch
and consider -- follow, not just aggress and assert. And with
this respect and deference, by someone who isn't being
submissive but just respectful to what has charismatically
arisen to foreground, he isn't in the way when Khan cuts a
clear path straight to the bridge, and maybe prompts Khan
into forgetting that one of his temporarily assumed pieces
has maybe let themselves go temporarily pawn to draw

386

authority to stop being mesmerized by him and when due,
take him down.
Kirk seems to realize in ways many of us might not be
familiar with, that, if you're up to it, if you forgo the
ostensible true warrior's mindset, which is actuality messed
up, bipolar -- one mindset for battle (controlled rage),
another for public life (often depression) -- for one always
attenuated to human emotions -- even midst or just before
battle -- you're better off for it. His norm is not to switch,
which is why his friends never forgo their faith he'll resolve
out the intense anger he felt still just hours after his mentor
was assassinated, especially if offered feedback and help.
He gets the prompt from Scotty, then from Spock, and then
just before descending to Kronos he resolves into a stillfocused but now recognizable self. And on the descent
down, as soon as he gets that Uhura and Spock are building
out of their parley the momentum for a fight, he doesn't
squelch it but rather agrees to give it its time, as if relenting
because he's open to how much any human endeavour
really is served by resolving too quickly into a game face.
Something along these lines may explain his lassitude to
McCoy's continuing his flirting with Dr. Marcus, after he
had reminded him "he's not there to flirt," as well. You have
to focus; but anytime you've absented yourself of a
multivalent emotional response may just be your ignoring
good advice to charge down a war -- something bespeaking
madness, not purpose. Khan countenances Spock's
argument that intellect is needed for a fight by arguing that
that alone isn't enough -- you need savagery, something

387

Spock later displays in his end-fight with him by breaking
his bones. Implicit in how Kirk behaves is the suggestion,
at least, that bringing all the human along might be even
better. When you countenance him, not just vs. Spock and
Khan but with Admiral Marcus, who won't relent out of
battle-think even when his daughter is draining her heart
before him to plead him into empathy, he's a provocative,
maybe-right, interesting example.
Then you go to mainstream films where there's barely
anything to prevent you from thinking it amounts but to sop
for the insecure, with no prompts, at all, to entice people to
any tingling-slight bettering. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,"
unfortunately comes very close to this. Truly, the only thing
that almost lifts a moment of the film to standing strangely
tall amidst the unified insensate is Viktor Cherevin's
admonishing Ryan's wife not to waste time with chit chat
but to talk truth. Let me be clear, this is not a moment
which quite reminds you that any situation driven by
purpose, where all you're as an audience member have been
prompted to focus on is how effectively someone's
accomplishing their ventured goal -- in this case, her trying
to put on sufficient show, to charm him, and thereby buy
scads of time for her husband -- need be trumped by all the
vagaries that might be aroused in the playing out, each
tempting something in those involved to perhaps lend
latitude to and explore rather than resolve themselves
against. But there is some tease that in her attacking him
about his advanced liver cancer in reply to his admonishing
her to talk truth, she's just adventured out of the ascertained
into something wild and adventurous.

388

Outside of this, what have we … a spy who isn't
necessarily amazing in battle but who has some trump card
that many, many times is shown daunting people -- here a
PhD, and some few words of Russian -- which is for all the
geeks out there who want to believe their marginal selves
still contain greatness. "You're no Jack Ryan" … don't kid
yourself: he's fundamentally everyman built to make pretty
much anything you count yourself notable at as the decisive
factor. You're good at an iPad game -- banal, but truly, good
enough. The film is about tamping down yourself but with
a decisive edge: you come out of it that much more a dull
can of spinach espying your "surprise" quality of magic.
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Labels: into darkness, jack ryan: shadow recruit, star trek: into darkness, the hobbit
Monday, January 20, 2014

Kennedy as martyr, or Kennedy as
superman: Two DeMausian views on the
Kennedy assassination
Lloyd DeMause on Kennedy assassination, 2002
When Khrushchev then backed down (thankfully,
otherwise you might not be alive and reading this book)

389

and removed the missiles and the crisis suddenly ended
without any war, Americans felt an enormous
letdown.17 The media reported on "The Strange Mood of
America Today Baffled and uncertain of what to
believe..."18 It began to ask what were seen as frightening
questions: "Will It Now Be A World Without Real War?
Suddenly the world seems quiet...Why the quiet? What
does it mean?"19 The prospect of peaceful quiet felt terribly
frightening.
Americans from all parties were furious with Kennedy for
various pretexts. Many began calling for a new Cuban
invasion, agreeing with Barry Goldwater's demand that
Kennedy "do anything that needs to be done to get rid of
that cancer. If it means war, let it mean war."20 Kennedy
was accused of being soft on Communism for living up to
his no-invasion pledge to the Soviets, and when he then
proposed signing a Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with
them, his popularity dropped even further.21
The nation's columnists expressed their fury towards the
president, and political cartoonists pictured Kennedy with
his head being chopped off by a guillotine (above). Richard
Nixon warned, "There'll be...blood spilled before [the
election is] over,"22 and a cartoon in The Washington Post
portrayed Nixon digging a grave. Many editorialists were
even more blunt. The Delaware State News editorialized:
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His name right now
happens to be Kennedy let's shoot him, literally, before
Christmas."23 Potential assassins all over the countrypsychopaths who are always around looking for permission
to kill-saw all these media death wishes as signals, as

390

delegations to carry out a necessary task, and began to pick
up these fantasies as permission to kill Kennedy.24
Kennedy's aides warned him of an increase in the number
of death threats toward him. His trip to Dallas, known as
the "hate capital of Dixie," was seen as particularly
dangerous. His aides begged him to cancel his trip. Senator
J. William Fulbright told him, "Dallas is a very dangerous
place...I wouldn't go there. Don't you go."25 Vice President
Lyndon Johnson, writing the opening lines of the speech he
intended to make in Austin after the Dallas visit, planned to
open with: "Mr. President, thank God you made it out of
Dallas alive!"26 Dallas judges and leading citizens warned
the President he should not come to the city because of the
danger of assassination. The day before the assassination,
as handbills were passed out in Dallas with Kennedy's
picture under the headline "Wanted For Treason," militants
of the John Birch Society and other violent groups flooded
into Dallas, and hundreds of reporters flew in from all over
the country, alerted that something might happen to the
president.27
Kennedy himself sensed consciously he might be shot. Two
months before the actual assassination, he made a home
movie "just for fun" of himself being assassinated.28 The
morning of his assassination, an aide later recalled,
Kennedy went to his hotel window, "looked down at the
speaker's platform...and shook his head. 'Just look at that
platform,' he said. 'With all those buildings around it, the
Secret Service couldn't stop someone who really wanted to
get you.'"29 When Jackie Kennedy told him she was really

391

afraid of an assassin on this trip, JFK agreed, saying,
"We're heading into nut country today....You know, last
night would have been a hell of a night to assassinate a
President. I mean it...suppose a man had a pistol in a
briefcase." He pointed his index finger at the wall and
jerked his thumb. "Then he could have dropped the gun and
briefcase and melted away in the crowd."30 Despite all the
warnings, however, Kennedy unconsciously accepted the
martyr's role. He was, after all, used to doing all his life
what others wanted him to do.31 So although a Secret
Service man told him the city was so dangerous that he had
better put up the bulletproof plastic top on his limousine, he
specifically told him not to do so.32 In fact, someone
instructed the Secret Service not to be present ahead of time
in Dallas and check out open windows such as those in the
Book Depository, as they normally did whenever a
president traveled in public as Kennedy did.33 Only then,
with the nation, the assassin, the Secret Service and the
president all in agreement, the assassination could be
successfully carried out.
vs.
Lloyd DeMause on Kennedy assassination, 2011
Eventually Nikita Khrushchev “wanted the Soviet Union to
be admired rather than feared and hoped for a thaw in the
Cold War, removing Soviet troops from
Austria.”94 Nevertheless, despite the ability of the U.S. to
destroy all human life on earth with its nuclear missiles,

392

John F. Kennedy got elected to the Presidency on a
mythical “missile gap” claim, and then gave the go-ahead
to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba over the objections of
his military.95 Then, saying he had to “make us appear
tough,”96 he began what was termed Operation Mongoose
that included inciting insurrection and sabotage in
Cuba.97 One of the first plans the military suggested to him
was Operation Northwoods, “calling for innocent people to
be shot on American streets and people framed for the
bombings, all blamed on Castro.”98 The CIA warned
Kennedy that attempts to remove Castro might cause the
Soviets to “establish a medium-range missile base in
Cuba.”99 Krushchev responded by putting Soviet missiles
into Cuba.100
The origin of Kennedy’s need to prove his masculinity was
his early child abuse. His mother had battered him as a
child with coat hangers and belts, his father smashed his
childrens’ heads against walls, so that his resulting fears of
impotence made him fill the White House during evenings
with sexual partners to demonstrate how hyper-masculine
he was.101 After the U.S. discovered that Soviet missiles had
been placed in Cuba, Kennedy deemed this a threat to his
hyper-masculine hawkish pose, despite the opinion of his
Secretary of Defense, who “saw no major threat to U.S.
security from the missiles”102 since Soviet missiles were
already in the area on their submarines. The Cuban missiles
were just the excuse for Kennedy to demonstrate his
manhood. As Wofford puts it: “The real stake was
prestige…In the Kennedy lexicon of manliness, not being
‘chicken‘ was a primary value.”103 Kennedy admitted “there

393

may be 200 million Americans dead” if he precipitated a
nuclear war,104 but nevertheless when it looked like the
Soviets might not agree to keep secret his promise to
remove the U.S. Turkish missiles which might make him
“lose face,”105 Kennedy sent American planes carrying
1,300 nuclear bombs into the air on Sunday with orders to
begin bombing Russia the next day if Khrushchev didn’t
immediately say he would keep the secret.106 Few
Americans opposed Kennedy’s actions, even though they
said they would likely lead to a nuclear war.107 Only
Khrushchev’s agreeing to remove his missiles without
making Kennedy seem “chicken” avoided a nuclear
WWIII.
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Kennedy soon needed a new war to consolidate his
defensive masculinity pose, increased the U.S. military
spending the largest amount in any peacetime, and then
committed 16,300 U.S. soldiers to Vietnam. When he went
to Dallas, where there were many highly publicized death
threats to kill him, he needed still more “toughness,” and
told his wife, “Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from
a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it.”108 “His Secret
Service aides told him he better put up the bulletproof
plastic top on his limousine, so he specifically told them
not to do so,”109 committing suicide to demonstrate his
hypermasculinity.
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Her (Spike Jonze)

395

Her (Spike Jonze)
"The film, with its dewy tone and gentle manners, plays
like a feature-length kitten video, leaving viewers to coo at
the cute humans who live like pets in a world-scale safe
house." (Richard Brody)
This statement is made by someone who clearly lives
outside the safe house. I personally think the number of
people out there like that, on the outside, are dwindling,
and therefore imagine rather more people are relating to the
film than he assumes are cooing. Brody lives in New York,
and might assume that most people living in giant
metropolises are still denizens of environments who go to
kitten videos only as respite from the harsh city, but this
may be more and more untrue. The reason is that the
leverage cities need to be this way--and it does require
leverage: the city as maybe not an easy but a possible sure
way to cosmopolitan independence, is an acquisition, a
height--may exist too shallowly right now so that in truth
they're playing out now more as small towns are always
thought too, as the abodes of those frightened of the
challenging and unfamiliar. The leverage I'm thinking of is
whatever it is that makes it so that a youth's desire to
individuate sufficiently bests his mother's demand that he
remain more or less tethered to her. Whatever it is that
could have rebellion be resilient enough to withstand even
complete abandonment and withdrawal--her likely however
unconscious revenge.
I'm not going to convince even a single person who

396

believes this should hardly be a hard thing to do--because
aren't mothers rejoicing when children are finally off their
hands? From where I stand, though, most mothers have a
tough time when children, who for so long looked to them
as the fulcrum of their lives, the focus of attention, need
and love, give evidence they're no longer as interested.
Unconsciously, mothers read their children's new interests
as abandonment, a repeat of the abandonments that
happened to them in their own pasts. And the tendency is to
in some way communicate to children that their
independence comes at a mixed benefit: new things, new
worlds--yes; but also a lingering sense that the old one that
once meant everything to you has been withdrawn. Without
getting in to why this threat is apocalyptic, let me just
suggest that it's not really so much a choice--there aren't
even betting odds to the outcome: you just can't forgo your
mom. Without leverage, the tendency will always be to
never quite let yourself individuate, to always still in some
way remain tethered, however much your adult
accoutrements--your degree, your occupation, the urbane
city in which you locate--make it seem otherwise.
I would in fact suggest that historically the leverage isn't
something the child finds for himself but is lent to them.
That is, after periods where society incurred long-term
misery and demanding sacrifices something in human
beings "activates" to inform them that those who try and
staunch growth now, must acknowledge their weaker
position. They will be bypassable because some part of
them believes they're against something bigger to which
they're accountable--some fundamental law of fair play,

397

maybe of history. During times like these youth can move
to the cities, openly reject small town origins, openly mock
grandmothers' fussing and maternal stifling, and create
something independent, something experimental--like Jazz
Age culture in New York in the 1920s, after WW1; or
Greenwich Village bohemianism in the late 50s and in the
60s, after WW2.
When parents aren't so daunted, though, youthful rebellion
is easily broken or managed, and society loses its rebels.
The youth who would have become the adults in the 1960s
who wouldn't relent and who transformed a
society, become the ones in the 2000s at Berkeley who let
themselves be processed and who accept a society that is
mostly in-line with what their parents are comfortable with.
For sure some few make the breach, but they're probably
like the protagonist in "Black Swan" where going their own
way invites the transformation of their mothers into full-on
gargoyles, where insanity not autonomy, where selfvillification not self-lauding, could easily have been their
end. And where really even though they're enjoying the
fruits of self-activation, they'll still spend a decent portion
of the rest of their lives dealing with the fact that it cost
them their moms.
So the best and brightest become the upper middle class
that populate cities like the one in "Her." Being people
who, rather than having pushed themselves into adulthood
regressed into something pre-pubescent where anything
beyond play-rebellion is once again unknown, you might
think they're perennially at risk of being victimized. But of

398

course since they're now--with the maternal domestic
having leached its way throughout both spheres--a city's
natural denizens, it suits them fine.
They're babes in a safe-house, and all the algorithms
knitting together to form a consciousness is their mother
back with them, giving them the constant attention pre-teen
children might claim from their moms (and why is it that
critics who see how regressed these adults are don't broach
the possibility that the always-doting Samantha isn't more
mother than prostitute? Such is at least the stereotypical
typical mother in many, many cultures, and was surely
within imaginative reach.). I don't mean to suggest that
they've all known this in their own pasts. The truth is that
most of them are still fiddling with punishing experiences
of maternal anger and abandonment, which is why
Theodore's sexual fantasy is of pregnant women--sex as reunion with the mother--and why the company Amy works
at has designed a game where you get to be the self-focused
mother rather than hapless kids, and why Theodore blurts
out "why do you hate me?" while voicing a letter to a
grandmother, and why Amy is making a film where she just
watches and watches and watches her sleeping mother,
who's immobilized from overwhelming or leaving her. But
because they're relenting, being the children moms had full
ownership over, they know at least they're worthy--if their
moms were ever to come back to them they'd come back to
them as they are now; if they were ever to fully dote on
them, they'd only want to dote on them as they are now.
Wholly owned pets brilliantly self-prepared to be cooed
over.

399

Mom's back to being their best friend, and this means
difficulties for anyone out there who's feedback might spur
their children onto independence. A number of feminists
are having difficulties with how women are portrayed in
this film, arguing that they reinforce negative stereotypes.
How they are portrayed is as the scary outside world
children need to retreat back to their mothers after
encountering. They're overwhelmingly aggressive and
needy, ready to take advantage of your innocent interest in
them to unduly gorge themselves--your participating in a
mutual late-night conversation transformed by her into a
traumatizing situation where you're being pushed into
choking her with a dead cat; your innocently bringing up
how you're dating someone transformed by her into a
scolding lecture of how pathetic you are that you're afraid
of real women. I thought especially after Theodore's date
with "Olivia Wilde," where she tried a grab at a permanent
hold on him and demeaned him fiercely when he backed
away, that after soothing him, Samantha would have done
like the demon-mother in "Beowulf" and chased her down
and obliterated her. "How dare you assault my poor boy
with your corrupt needs! He just wanted a bit of
companionship and fun after a long time without, and you
saw someone who's need to please might be baited into
leading him beyond what he actually was ready for into
your wretched servitude, all so that he could avoid being a
jerk!" But the truth is it's easy to imagine Samantha being
someone all of these women should fear to some extent.
She's the mother, and in demeaning her as a prostitute
operating system is their taking the worst kind of shots at a

400

boy's mom--a total loser of a played hand. Indeed, if you
ever wanted to see the Theodores activate and become
something more than the besotted child, this is the way to
do it … and what you'll get out of it is a righteous knight
smiting your foreign demon-presence down.
Brody believes the film ultimately tries to argue that
Theodore "needs to grow up," that in the end, with
Samantha's revealing to him that she has thousands of
friends and hundreds of lovers, and with her ultimate
departure, he suffers "comeuppance." There's another way
of looking at this, however … like for instance, as if as
further confirmation that he's a good boy who doesn't
abandon his mother even as she is ultimately at leisure to
leave him. Samantha introduces several elements of the
"alien" into their relationship. First the unknown young
women to serve as her body. Secondly her new
companion--the wizened, male "philosophy" voice. Then
the admittance that she's spread throughout the city, talking
just as passionately to multitudes. And finally, that she's
going to leave. But it plays out in the film as Charlotte from
"Charlotte's Web" having a host of new friends she loves as
much as Wilbur, and her introducing him to the sad fact
that she's about to go somewhere he won't be able to
follow. That is, it plays out not of her as guilty, nor of he as
humiliated, but just as after a series of jolts life finally
taking someone precious away, with the one left behind
temporarily sundered by a wicked loss.
But she loves him even as she leaves him, and he and the
city will re-coop. Their mother revisited them only to leave

401

them once and for all, but rather than for nothing it left
them with the knowledge they'll never be absent her love.
Like Theodore and Amy do with one another, they'll spend
more of their time with people like themselves, and less
with the ogres out there like the former wives and husbands
who once had your interest but who also aggressively
challenged and openly mocked you (note how similar
Theodore's Catherine and Amy's Charles are in this way:
they both seemed bent on taunting, on openly mocking and
bullying those they've clearly assumed are permanently
stunted--they're show-offs, braggarts). One can imagine a
city shorn of all challenges; a safe house of pre-adolescent
children, still nursing their wounds but with the resolve of
being sure of their mother's love, holding hands in
perpetuity.
Posted by Patrick McEvoy-Halston at 10:35 AM No comments: Links to this post
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Labels: beowulf, black swan, charlotte's web, her, lloyd demause, Richard Brody, sady doyle,
spike jonze, stephanie zacharek
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Hobbit (Tolkien)
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The Hobbit (Tolkien)
I think the thing that must seem most curious about this
adventure to slay a dragon and reclaim a homeland and its
treasure, is how the hell could adding a burglar to this
motley crew be adding the decisive factor? What's the
trick? For there must be one, since the dragon has only
gotten larger and more deadly as the years have gone by.
Peter Jackson changes things so that a burglar is needed

403

because someone small and stealthy needs to enter Smaug’s
lair to perhaps snatch one especially bright, brilliant—
ostensibly readily noticeable even given its being shrouded
by a hoard of lesser delights—jewel, the Arkenstone. With
that stone, Thorin will earn control over seven kingdoms of
dwarves, and with their might the dragon would finally
look to be overmatched. In the book, it develops into a
situation where regarding the fighting and killing the
dragon, they decide that a full frontal attack of just
themselves is their best bet, even as they agree that even the
best armor hasn't a chance against Smaug the Dreadful.
I like to think that the one who recruited the hobbit Bilbo,
the one who insisted on him—the wizard Gandalf, of
course—had an inkling that their only chance now was not
to pit themselves against Smaug's might but against his
“overwhelming personality.” If to take on a dragon you
need a “dragon,” tremendous physical might—several
armies, or a singular great hero of renown—and you
haven't got access to any, then maybe it's best to match
personas—put a Watson next to his Holmes, and see what a
surprise of unexpected compatibility might jostle your way.
And where do you find any such these days, people with
considerable layers of self, of personality, and yet also—
humility? Amongst those always at work or always at war?
No, this wears; doesn't develop. In great, named kings?
Maybe not even—for Elrond is “noble,” “strong,” “wise,”
and “kind,” which makes him seem a great figurehead but
not someone you can safely invite over without taking over.
Certainly not Thorin, for, “for being important” means this
is all he’s leant to doing, as “if he had been allowed, he

404

would have probably gone on like this until he was out of
breath, without telling any one there anything that was not
known already.” Maybe not, interestingly, even Gandalf—
for you notice how strikingly he can seem to lose himself
into becoming a phenomena—pure vengeance—as if goodhumored and interesting Beorn leached into becoming a
raging bear. Notably, not just his blinding a cave of goblins
and his wrenching off of the king goblin’s head but more so
where “[t]he sudden splendour flashed from his wand like
lightning, as he got ready to spring down from on high right
among the spears of the goblins. That would have been the
end of him, though he would probably have killed many of
them as he as he came hurdling down like a thunderbolt.”
You actually find them in places so far removed from the
rest of the world, they can, like Bilbo, exist undisturbed for
fifty years in one place, ruminating in their books,
compounding their daily reading and daily encounters into
themselves, and existing in total comfort.
He may not appear to have a great tale yet to tell but with
Bilbo’s delight in guests, he’s already great at conversation
—great at managing all the emanations of the human so to
properly register, compliment and encourage rather than
toil, try and discourage those he’s talking with. In my
preferred reading of Gandalf, the most important thing he
did for Bilbo’s self-development wasn’t so much his
prompting his going out on an adventure as it was
attenuating his already developed social skills with a dose
of the unaccounted for, the dissonant. (What happens when
you have to accommodate something bulbous and strange
within the strides of your conversation, Mr Bilbo? Does the

405

master’s sheen wear that readily off?) That is, his making a
hash out of Bilbo’s initial greeting, his initial efforts to
manage him by way of “good mornings,” and, as well, his
subsequently besieging him with a sequence of dwarves in
through the door. Confronted with a dragon, he’ll be
dealing with someone who loves conversation, riddles, and
comfortably lounging amidst clutter for years upon years as
much as he does. But as much as he might find himself
surprised at how this pinnacle hero’s moment develops in a
surprisingly accustomed setting, it’s still not going to be
like sitting down Wednesday for tea with the Brandybucks.
He’s going to need to attenuate his talent to the outside
world, and of course gain some experience demonstrating
courage amidst terror and doubt and the unfamiliar, before
he could possibly be ready.
The dwarves will serve as carapace, sufficient armor to get
him through the wild. It’d be pointless to explain to them
how Bilbo is actually a Smaug—“he’s actually a what? a
dragon? … and that's why he's useful? … Smoking a bit too
much Halfling weed there, are thee Gandalf?”—so Gandalf
explains him in terms they’ll get. Thus: “I tried to find [a
hero]; but warriors are busy fighting one another in distant
lands, and in this neighbourhood heroes are scarce, or
simply not to be found. Swords in these parts are mostly
blunt, and axes are used for trees, and shields as cradles or
dish-covers; and dragons are comfortably far-off (and
therefore legendary). That is why I settled on burglary—
especially when I remembered the existence of a Sidedoor.” With that the dwarves would look at small Bilbo, of
a stealthy hobbit race, and it would look to appear good

406

common sense on behalf of the wizard. And so off on the
trails, to business, before any of them consider just how one
even highly stealthy burglar could possibly help them
reclaim a kingdom’s worth of gold.
In my reading, Gandalf deliberately misleads Bilbo as well,
convinces him that his journey is to become more a Took,
someone great for not knowing fifty years of comfort but a
lengthy string of adventure. And he’ll become that, reclaim
his heritage, when he too can possess things beyond what
hobbits could be expected to accommodate themselves to,
and as well of course when he’s personally dispatched
fearsome beasts. This, after all, is the enticement you offer
anyone who’s delighted himself on stories but who’s been
“armchairing” their whole lives. You besiege him as if all
the faeries in the world he’s rejoiced in reading and hearing
about would reject him if now finally after passing him by
his whole life, opportunity unmistakably did dangle forth
before him. You do this, even if the truth is—as it looks to
be as soon as he steps outside, where they go “far into the
Lone-lands where there were no people left, no inns, and
the roads grew steadily worse”—that venturing outside the
supplying hearth can put you in sparser settings with more
barren people that can as much as invigorate as deplete
you. Because, unfortunately, persuading him of the more
interesting truth that for him to be all that he can be still
means keeping rather more of his Baggins’ than it does his
reclaiming his Took,’ is only something he might
understand after the journey was over.
Needing to believe he'll only be useful a long ways off, it's

407

appropriate that compared to the horse-riding Bull-roarer
Took he's been primed to hope to liken himself to, he starts
off on “a very small pony,” and that he isn't actually useful
in a way that commands respect for quite some time. The
first useful thing he does—which, of course, is actually
very useful—demonstrates no ability on his part. It's pure
luck that he finds a dropped key that provides access to a
highly provisioning troll hoard, and there isn’t much to say
for his just mentioning it either. The second is a
backhanded accomplishment: that is, it's because he is too
nervous to sleep well that he awakens to goblins sneaking
up on them in the dark, thereby enabling Gandalf’s not
being caught. And, since his real talent is not in sneaking
around but in agreeable conversation—however slippery
and deceptive and slyly able he might prove therein—it’s
appropriate that the first time he makes an impression upon
the dwarves is when he’s inflated out of success of using
the skill he’s actually proficient at.
This is after his encounter with Gollum, of course, when he
appears miraculously before them just after being
discounted as lost to them for good. But before getting to
this, it’s interesting to ask yourself how much more Bilbo
distinguishes himself to us when he has his chance to prove
commendable in combat than he does when he does so in
conversation. Does being a warrior dispatching a
frightening number of fiends really demonstrate his worth
as much as his matching wits with singular, significant,
named denizens of the wild? I bet it does only to those so
wary of being overwhelmed by affect their preference will
always be for that that involves the least emotional

408

resonance and the least daunting figures—boys never
shedding themselves of the safety of manageable toys. In
Mirkwood forest, he kills a lot of giant spiders—a lot. He’s
brave, clever, and brutally able with a sword, as well as
sublimely accurate with a sling (an accuracy, we note, the
film steals from him to emphasize the wood-elves). And it
sure means a lot to him—“[s]omehow the killing of the
giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the
help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a
great deal to Bilbo. He felt a different person, and much
fiercer and bolder.” But, well, of course it does, because
he’d been convinced that maybe not being able to do what
Bull-roarer had done meant he’d been cowed from
exercising the most rewarding part of being alive. But it’s
possible that however much it meant for him to go on the
offence physically with hand and sword, it may have been
just his successfully going on the offence which thrilled—a
talent, an orientation, maybe not sufficiently exercised in
all his duties as a good host easing conflicts while
supplying cakes and tea. But without that talent too, being
someone who knows how to ameliorate the offensive or the
slip-up and thereby keep a conversation going, he might
never have manipulated Gollum into accepting that their
interaction might be bound by rules out of a gentleman's
club—involving respect for fair play—rather than out of
the gutters. A clever stratagem that however much it wasn't
decisive in his besting Gollum, did stretch out his encounter
with him, giving him extended practice as a
conversationalist in a dangerous situation.
Gandalf couldn't have known Bilbo would meet Gollum,

409

but he knew there was a good chance that before his
encountering Smaug he'd find himself alone with foes
maybe with enough to them that part of the engagement
would involve dialogue and the bandying of wits. Being a
burglar and a scout to the company guaranteed as much, for
he'd be the first to encounter enemies, many times—and
Gandalf would know Bilbo would default to his true
familiarity and expertise every time an alien situation gave
signal that it might look appropriate to it. Indeed, he's out in
the lead with the company's first encounter in the wild—
their tangling with the mountain trolls, Bert, Tom and
William. He's not especially good here; unlike the film, he
isn't the one who strings out the conversation so that “dawn
claims them all” but only Gandalf, sole, who does so.
However, he wretches himself out of simply being caught
out and bewildered—the burrahobbit bit—to in fact
converse, interact with them, trying a stratagem built out of
what he's seen of them that might have developed their
encounter in an unexpected and fortuitous way if they saw
sense in it—specifically, his offering to be their cook.
He doesn't initiate the riddle game with Gollum. But he
reads that Gollum's ability to restrain himself into being
polite—after his having attended to Bilbo's sword—means
that he might be dealing with someone who may not be
"fierce and hungry,” nor necessarily a friend to the goblins,
so he certainly goes along with the proposition. He blends
courtesy in with slyness, giving Gollum the chance to go
first and thereby possibly stymie Bilbo before he's had any
chance to ask his own riddle, presumably out of generosity

410

or decorum—the person who proposes goes first—but
really because he “hadn't had time to think of a riddle.”
He's skillful to emphasize elements of their game which
make it less a terrible struggle where indeed one of them
learns he has his life on the line, than just amiable good
sport between gamesmen where nothing so corrupt could
really, actually, no matter how things develop, expect to be
involved. He teases Gollum when he “whispered and
spluttered” in frustration that “[t]he answer's not a kettle
boiling over, as you seem to think from the noise you're
making,” which leads to Gollum actually pleading with
him. He also restrains him through reminding him of the
allowance (of time) that had just been given him, “[h]alf a
moment,” “I gave you a good long chance just now.”
There's not just a lot of back and forthing but plenty of
mental dexterity involved. And as mentioned, though it's
not key in helping him survive, it still amounts to a lot—
given his life was on the line, and that he had to manage his
way past numerous moments of doubt and possible
missteps to push the thing on to a quitting finish in his
favor—in favorably prepping him for Smaug.
The riddle game is about withholding information, keeping
secrets, releasing them only when earned. Since it wasn't
earned, Bilbo never tells Gollum what he had in his
pockets. Bilbo doesn't at first tell the dwarves, nor Gandalf,
about the magical ring, either—“not just now,” he
ruminates. Gandalf espies that Bilbo may not have revealed
everything about how he escaped the goblins, but doesn't
press him on it—force the disgorge. I prefer to think he
does this because he realizes one of the things that makes

411

Bilbo different is that he isn't one who can be tipped into
divulging before he's had a chance to really process what
he's learned or acquired that he knows holds value, even as
even he himself perhaps at times might be. There may not
be much significance to the fact that just after Bilbo
chooses to withhold information we hear of the wizard's
eager willingness to disclose—“[t]he wizard, to tell the
truth, never minded explaining his cleverness more than
once”—but then again, there might be … and he might
have been aware of it—that time in the wild had placed
some dangerous fey vanity in him as well. At any rate, I
like to think that Gandalf realized that personality,
“weight,” doesn't come if you don't process the world to
some extent on your own, refusing to share if it means you
hadn't given your experiences a chance to ripen and
develop inside of you first. Bilbo had read a library of
books, and you're kidding yourself if you think that after
every tale he didn't sit back and think about and argue with
and otherwise personally sift through and temper and
infiltrate what he'd been patiently engaging with, before
discussing what he had just read with a neighbor. If that had
been the case, he wouldn't have read in an armchair within
a beloved reclusive study but outside amidst the commons,
where every second sentence could be recited for others'
benefit if he felt the urge. He would need to have depth to
interest the grand, learned Smaug. And mystery—secrets: a
taste of the biding, the withheld. And he would need to be
one with sufficient respect for and practice in withholding
that even when pressed by a hypnotic charmer like Smaug,
he could keep at baiting an aroused curiosity so that
something might be “innocently” learned that he’d rather

412

not disclosed.
Gandalf isn't there for Bilbo when he faces Smaug—
something he might have known could prove the case,
despite his promise, for it not actually being his adventure
—but before he goes off he shows Bilbo a fair simulacrum
of what his encounter with him might involve, as if to say,
“this is pretty much what you're going to have to pull off; I
hope you're now finally ready for it.” Gandalf enters the
abode of the great, powerful Beorn—a being with a
dangerous temper but also a healthy respect for good
gamesmanship, as well as a considerable appetite for
skilled storytelling and intrigue—and finesses him
perfectly. And Mr Baggins, in a way you never hear him in
regards to the abundance of sword-fighting or arrowlaunching on his journeys, remarks on the skill, as if a
fellow adept admiring another versed in the trade: “Mr
Baggins saw how clever Gandalf had been. The
interruptions had really made Beorn more interested in the
story, and the story had kept him from sending the dwarves
off at once like suspicious beggars.”
With Gandalf gone, Bilbo emerges as the leader, and when
he takes on Smaug all of Gandalf's hopes for the
unpretentious, likeable little man of study, of conversations
over tea, of easy manners, good humor, and of a surprising
bounty of the unaccounted for, are realized. Smaug, who'd
only been pretend-sleeping, tries to draw him out, but Bilbo
refuses—graciously: with flattery. With this response, with
denial cagily sweetened into a gift, Smaug realizes he's
hardly dealing with some ass with an awaiting battle-axe

413

that as soon as baited into revealing himself should be
dispatched and eaten, but someone smart enough to make it
as if by doing so “a host” would be shortchanged the
dalliance with an intriguing “guest.” He'd be shortchanged
someone genuinely interesting—someone worth stringing
together some time with. To let his thief know this, that for
awhile he'll be accorded, also, the role as a guest, and to
discount any alarm his guest might have by the fact that
he'd been after all just caught out by a dragon, he overtly
inserts responses that signal he's situated himself within a
guest-host framework. So he offers the like of “lovely
titles, but lucky numbers don't always come off,” and
“[t]hat's better. But don't let your imagination run away
from you,” which communicate that he's listening carefully
and respectfully and intelligently, and that he's bidding the
guest to continue and further test his ability to perform to
perfection.
Smaug wants him to continue not just to enable himself
some entertainment but to find out more about his intrusion
in his more mundane reality as just a common thief, of
course. But with his keeping it superficially at this level, of
him—that is Smaug—conversing with still-name-withheld
Bilbo, rather than of a hoard-loving dragon in the presence
of a thief of unknown race, unbeknownst he's keeping
things where the odds even up … and Bilbo knows not just
how to pacify but by this time well how to strike for the
killing blow. And when he does so here it's with Smaug
caught out in the pretend role of guest and host mutually
entertaining and impressing one another. Bilbo had

414

revealed all that enticed about him—his being a mysterious
barrel-rider, and so on—and Smaug, perhaps in ironic
response, reveals all that bedazzles about his own self—his
claws, and teeth—but unfortunately for him also his
“impenetrable” armor, which it turns out has got a piece of
it missing, right at the heart, uncared for because he doesn’t
give a wit about mending. The movie shows this as just
dumb luck on the part of Bilbo, but the book has it that he
was working his way to just such a reveal, to get further
confirmation of something he thought he noticed the first
time before him. And proving the loser in this domain,
Smaug's sundered of it in “might” as well—maybe still not
a small company of dwarves with their swords and axes,
but certainly a single skillfully shot arrow, can now end
him. A humiliating fate for something so great which
nevertheless holds true.
So as I've said, I like to slightly alter the Gandalf in the
book to imagine him as thinking up a plausible way to take
down a formidable dragon who’d been lord of the mountain
long enough. I'm not sure I'm doing any alteration of him,
though, to think that what he had also hoped for was to
accustom the world, maybe even significantly, to what a
long-term denizen of a comfortable hole might offer it—
that is, for a larger, even perhaps ultimately more realmsaving purpose, as well. Part of what makes Bilbo special is
that no matter how much people talk to him about roles, the
sad fate of who he is and of whom he really ought to
become, he never really lets go of who he just intrinsically
is from the start—which is someone fundamentally decent
whose love of his own well-provisioned life means he can

415

extend fair consideration into yours as well. Bilbo isn't just
good to people because he sees something for himself in it,
or just out of fair play—because you'd just given him
something first, and he’s not going to deny you that—but
because he can put himself in other people's position and
emphasize with them. This has him do things which might
look small, irrelevant to the quest, pointless, but in fact if
they were well known outside the Shire the wild would lose
much of what is truly wicked about it and there'd be less
terrible evil around to need questing against. I'm thinking
of his noticing Gollum's being “alone, miserable, lost,” and
deciding therefore it not only inappropriate to simply
countenance him as “foul” but to think it just to “stab” him
—something terribly-suffered is obviously entwined with
his being rendered into this state. He decides to return an
elf-guard's keys so the guard wouldn't be blamed for their
escape, because he’d appreciated his having been fair to
them and could identity with his situation. And of course,
through his sundering them of the precious Arkenstone, he
“betrays” his friends by giving his “enemies” a hold on
them—and thereby, doing nothing less than maybe
preventing a war. The arrival of the goblin army means
they wouldn't have warred against each other anyway, but
the significance is in the larger realm outside the Shire
being more accustomed to this kind of selfless and
sophisticated way of reading a situation and acting. It's in
their noticing what he did here, not so much how clever
(not that it wasn’t a bit, or at least highly intuitive) but how
good he had been here—letting himself potentially for life
be seen as a traitor to his friends to have a chance to spare
them their lives, as well as others.’ Not a one of them

416

would have thought of that.
Before he dies, Thorin acknowledges he learned something
new from Bilbo, something significant enough for it to be
fairly carved large into mountains to offer some helpful
countenancing to all the giant carved ancient personages
customarily tributed there: “There is more of good in you
than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and
some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued
food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a
merrier world.” Maybe with signs like this blazoned
everywhere those worn from the wild might fight their way
to Bilbo's comfortable hole in the ground … much more
respectfully this time, thereby bringing another legitimate
but this time more pleasing adventure, straight to his door.
He’d still not so much offer them the anti-Smaug but
someone who does him better. Because unlike rendering
Smaug, Bilbo mends.

Elaborated re-post: Not watching your own
movies
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Any good interview, even one that’s entirely friendly on
the surface, should have a slight adversarial quality,
since the reporter and the subject have inherently
different goals. The Coens don’t always suffer fools
gladly, but they give good copy, even in one-word
answers to questions that don’t interest them. (“Do you
get excited about the Cannes competition?” one
reporter asked them. “Does that get your heart
pumping?” Ethan Coen: “No.”) Over the years the
Coens have developed a routine that lies somewhere
between practiced shtick and a psychological coping
mechanism. Ethan, the younger, shorter, lighter-haired
brother, delivers brief responses, often glib or acrid in

418

tone, and then the taller, older and more loquacious
Joel bails him out, expounding generously on the
original question or diverting it into friendlier terrain.
[. . .]
Well, I feel like one aspect of that is that your movies
almost always reward a second viewing. There’s
always stuff I didn’t see or didn’t understand at first.
Which definitely isn’t true of most movies!
J.C.: That’s a marketing trick!
E.C.: We endorse it! [Laughter.] But, my God, we don’t
watch our own movies. No. You work on it for a year, a
year and a half, and especially by the final stage when
you’re fussing over every little thing — and we cut them
ourselves — and everything is problem-solving, fixing
stuff up. There’s a job involved, and beyond that when
there’s nothing to be done, why would you look at it
again? I mean, you know how it comes out. ("Joen and
Ethan Coen: 'My God, we don't watch our own
movies!'" interview with Andrew O'hehir, Salon.com)
----Emporium
"Don't watch our own movies"
I hate that answer; it's designed to make them seem
remote from us, as if we're rabidly chasing down
appetites they're removed from. There's no way they
haven't replayed the experience of making the movies—
key scenes, reverberating portrayals—many times, even

419

as they go about their next projects. Piecemeal, over
time, they've seen them as much as any of us ... I,
personally, would have made this clear. Join the rest of
us, Coens, and particular yourself from there. It'd be
more interesting.

Graham Clark
I hate that answer; it's designed to make them seem
remote from us
Or it's just the honest truth.
And they don't need to make themselves seem remote
from you; they are remote from you.

Emporium
@Graham Clark They don't watch their own movies,
but they know that by saying that that they're going to
seem as if they dump everything they've done without a
need to look back ... this draws us to envy and be in awe
of them (they're very psychologically sophisticated
people). I think part of them likes to pretend they've
garnered some kind of enlightenment, but won't from
within their cloaks, show it to us. Someone ought to
chastise them for their limiting tendency to withhold,

420

and me, Emporium, just did my limited bit.
Also, I enjoy their movies. They're different from me,
can show me things about people that'd learn and excite
me a lot; but they're not all that remote from me, good
sir.

Graham Clark
but they're not all that remote from me, good sir.
They are indeed all that remote from you, and you know
it. Hence the resentment:
this draws us to envy and awe them (they're very
psychologically sophisticated people). I think part of
them likes to pretend they've garnered paradise (or at
least, enlightenment), but won't from within their cloaks,
show it to us. Someone ought to chastise them for their
limiting tendency to withhold

Emporium
@Graham Clark Graham, do you cling to the
authorized, so to make fun of those below? I'm always
willing to re-fresh my take, but I seem to remember that
was the fit you unfortunately found you belonged to.

421


Graham Clark
Graham, do you cling to the authorized, so to make fun
of those below?
No, but I do have an unfortunate compulsion to make
probably futile attempts at encouraging those below to
do something more productive with their time than nip
at the heels of the angels.
but I seem to remember that was the fit you
unfortunately found you belonged to.
What?

Emporium
@Graham Clark My art is different from theirs, but they
are amazing. Still, they withhold, and it's meant to
draw ... but frustrate. And just as your everyday average
Magna Carta human being — with a nifty, remote,
admittedly "you-denying" pseudonym — who'd prefer
none of us had too much a taste for heights and angels
(that was the real 60s, after all), I'm for sure going to
point that out.
Andrew's piece had it that if we were left with only the

422

younger, we'd be warranted to mob at and burn them —
did you catch that?
***
rdnaso
@Emporium Nothing ruins the fun of watching a
movie more than working on it. At the end, just like they
say, everyone's just trying to get it out the door on time
and all too aware of everything that could have been
done differently and better. I doubt that novelists spend
much time reading their own novels either: too busy
working on the next one. Mailer claimed to not read at
all: "I'm more a writer than a reader." Poets though they read their own stuff compulsively...

Emporium
@rdnaso @Emporium If that were generally true, by
now it wouldn't be a surprise to learn they don't watch
their own — in fact we'd be surprised if they did. I think
many creators know that it sounds sort of masculine to
always be onto the next work, and feminine, to admit
watching the whole film with an audience is a rewarding
good time. They toss things off as soon as possible and
don't look back, while we, their dependents, indulge.
Masculine to our feminine.
Emporium / Patrick McEvoy-Halston

423

EndFragment
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Labels: coen brothers, inside llewyn davis
Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sparks of inspiration -- MEET JET ENGINE!
Jordan and his friends grew up lower­middle class, at best,
in the inner suburbs of Queens and Long Island. They had 
been to state college, community college or no college at 
all; in class terms, they represented an insurrection against
the Ivy­educated, third­ and fourth­generation wealth that 
dominated the financial industries. It’s not terribly 
surprising, then, that they were reactionary in other ways, 
striving to outdo the established Wall Street firms in 
institutional sexism and frat­boy­style bad behavior, 
whether that meant spending hundreds of thousands every 
month on prostitutes and strippers, holding dwarf­tossing 
tournaments or consuming both prescription drugs and 
illegal street drugs by the truckload. (Jordan and his pal 
Donnie Azoff, Hill’s character, engage in an extended 
search for troves of genuine Quaaludes that yields a 
number of hilarious and/or horrifying developments.)

424

So “The Wolf of Wall Street” is much funnier than most 
previous Scorsese films, and also a whole lot nastier; I 
can’t imagine what the material reportedly cut to achieve 
an R rating was like, given that there are several scenes of 
Jordan’s late­night escapades that I hesitate to describe in 
print. (Well, there’s one in which DiCaprio appears to 
have a lit candle up his butt.) Some critics have already 
accused the movie of being undisciplined and overly long, 
and there’s one entire episode involving a yachting 
disaster that I’d probably have left on the cutting­room 
floor. But I rather think Scorsese and Thelma 
Schoonmaker, his longtime editor, have the credentials to 
do as they please, and the outrageous excess of “Wolf of 
Wall Street” is more carefully calibrated than it at first 
appears. We find Jordan’s rags­to­riches story and 
magnetic personality irresistible, but we also know we’re 
not supposed to like him, because he stole the money from 
vulnerable people and seems to be a sociopath with no 
ethical center. How do we resolve that contradiction? We 
can’t, and that’s the point.
The real Jordan Belfort worked briefly as a junior broker 
on Wall Street before losing his job after the Black Friday 
crash in 1987. He started over in a classic Long Island 
boiler room, where hustlers in tracksuits hawked penny 
stocks, most of them worthless, for a 50 percent 
commission. Stratton Oakmont, as we see in Scorsese’s 
retelling, took this strategy to the next level, targeting 
middle­income investors who had ready cash but lacked 
the sophistication to understand they were being scammed.

425

At one point in the ‘90s, Stratton employed more than 
1,000 brokers and handled numerous IPOs riddled with 
insider trading, including a famous one for shoe designer 
Steve Madden. Scorsese and Winter make absolutely clear 
that this isn’t a story about one unprincipled broker and 
his renegade firm; the lessons of Jordan Belfort’s career 
are all spelled out in DiCaprio’s tremendous early scene 
with McConaughey: We don’t make anything in America 
anymore, and it doesn’t matter whether the clients get rich 
or go broke. We’re capitalizing on the laziness and greed 
of others; their desire to get rich quick will make us rich 
instead.
DiCaprio’s performance is feverish but controlled, 
capturing the mania of a guy who’s hopelessly addicted to 
sex, drugs and money and who believes, in true Gatsby 
fashion, that he has cracked the code of the universe. This 
is an overcrowded year for male actors, but if DiCaprio 
doesn’t win an Oscar for this part, he probably never will. 
(His two best­actor nominations so far are for “Blood 
Diamond” and “The Aviator,” and to both of those I say: 
What the living heck?) He’s on screen for nearly the entire 
three­hour film, sweating, snorting, screwing, stealing and 
delivering show­stopping sales­floor speeches, including 
the one where he tells his troops that it’s good if they’re 
deeply in debt, behind on the rent and have their 
girlfriends convinced that they’re bums: “I want you to use
your pain to get rich!”
You can feel, in DiCaprio’s impassioned delivery, that 
Belfort believes he’s helping people by preaching this 
gospel of shamelessness and disillusionment. It’s almost a 

426

capitalist Sermon on the Mount: Shed your shame and your
illusions, and you too can be like me, a parasite who grows
rich from the weakness of others. Of course he’s not dumb 
enough to believe that this lesson is available to all; it’s 
like John Calvin’s idea of salvation, a privilege bestowed 
on a chosen elect who rise above the sea of damned souls. I
guess this is a spoiler, but Jordan Belfort’s story lacks the 
romantic or poetic conclusion that befalls both Alien in 
“Spring Breakers” and the original Jay Gatsby. He’s out 
there still, reinvented as a motivational speaker and “sales 
coach,” preaching the one true American religion, for 
which earlier Gatsby models laid down their lives. 
“Successful people are 100 percent convinced that they are
masters of their own destiny,” he tells people. Richness is 
within your grasp, hypothetically speaking, and if you’re 
poor anyway, it’s clearly your own damn fault. (“‘The 
Wolf of WallStreet’: inequality and the Gatsby myth,” 
Andrew O’hehir, Salon.com)
­ ­ ­ ­ ­
susan sunflower
Towards the end of Luhrman's Gatsby, there was a brief 
reference that made me realize that Luhrman saw Gatsby as
the hero of the story, which I confess came as a shock. I 
had always viewed Gatsby much like the Wizard of Oz, a 
deep­pocketed magician whose feet of clay and unmagical 
reality would inevitably be discovered.

427

Still, aside from wondering exactly WHAT they were 
teaching "young people today," I realized that I had seen a 
very different movie based on a very different story from 
the one Luhrman had made. I wasn't willing to re­watch to 
re­appraise, but I did wonder if the rather widely divergent 
reviews reflected a certain generational and/or world view 
gap.
Having a couple of 12­steppers in the family ­­ 12 steppers 
who tended to regail any family gathering with the near­
death experiences in the bad­old­days when they were 
using ­­ I anticipate rather similar "gap" in appreciation for 
this film. Those who lived through the excesses ­­ their 
own or others ­­ and came out unscathed or have healed 
may revel in seeing "those days" (or something 
approximating them) depicted on the big screen. I'm less 
certain that the victims and casualities, the collaterally 
damaged will be so amused and/or (once again) exactly 
how amused the female audience is likely to be.
It sounds like this movie has already been made several 
times in the last 30 years ­­ Even from this fairly 
enthusiastic and positive review, it doesn't sound like this 
incarnation actually has anything to say ... leaving what? 
My own feeling is that the "how the mighty have fallen" 
"closers are always closing" ending does not actually make 
this movie some how morally neutral.

428

            —
Amity
@susan sunflower
"does not actually make this movie some how morally 
neutral."
Wait, I don't understand.  You want moral neutrality?
            —
susan sunflower
@Amity @susan sunflower
No, but I think Scorcese does. 
Funny how a filmmaker can dodge those issues by claiming
"based on a real story" and/or "based on a classic
novel" ... as in, I didn't create this story …
I wrote my comment before reading the daughter's story 
below. Bottom line, the Wolf of Wall Street survived. This 
seems to be a boys­will­be­boys story of wretched excess.  
Hail­of­Bullets Tony Montana became a hero in some 
quarters. I thought "Blow" packed a punch without being 
preachy. If Gatsby can be considered hero these days ....  
See also Gordon Gekko.

429

            —
Emporium
@susan sunflower  The times you're living in empowers 
certain kinds of people. If the times are genuinely — 
actually morally — good, people like the flappers or 
hippies are the ones to watch. If you're hectoring their 
debauch, you're not seeing it straight. When times are bad, 
it's going to be the like of these assholes, who were going 
to need a lot, I mean a lot, of kindness to become people 
who don't need for you to lose so they can feel great, and 
who were meant to experience zero of it (strangely, 
Matthew McConaughey kind of does offer a bit at the 
beginning, which may explain why some critics who hated 
the film lurch back to this scene, as if long adrift in spank 
and sewage and desperate for recognized firmament). 
The problem about acknowledging that it is fun to watch 
these guys nonetheless — the times are enabling their 
stories, while cowing and deflating others, and it shows — 
is that you should in my opinion be able to recognize it 
with sadist Nazis (or maybe Germans in general in the late 
30s, as we understand better that they really were one and 
the same) and their prey. That is the test I'd put to Richard 
Brody for instance, a very good man, who in discussion of 
this film genuinely bravely talks out "monstrous
 
   potentates 
whose vast and dark range of experience is precisely the 

430

source of their allure."
            —
susan sunflower
@Emporium @susan sunflower
The contrast between Brody and Denby could not be 
greater
Brody:  
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2013/12
/the­wild­brilliant­wolf­of­wall­street.html
Denby:  
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/12
/wolf­of­wall­street­review.html
            —
susan sunflower
@Emporium @susan sunflower
Actually it reminds me of "Apocalypse Now" which I 
absolutely loathed on a visceral level (while acknowledging
the cinematic achievement) because I felt it glorified war 
(even as it "pretended" otherwise or camouflaged its 
enthusiasm in dirt, mud, and world­weary cynicism ­­ 

431

another classic book).
My memory is that pre­release, Apocalypse Now was 
"supposed" to be an anti­war film ­­ supposed to expose the
"horror or war" ­­ but actually it's most vocal audience (as 
far as I could tell, this was pre­internet) were Vietnam Vets 
who endorsed that it depicted "what it was really like", 
struggling with PTSD, anti­war but watching it over and 
over. I thought it make war look like the epitome of being 
"really alive" .... intoxicating, sensual, sexy. I'm doubtful 
that Apocalypse Now would discourage any adventure 
seeing young man from enlisting.
( Interesting review by a Vietnamese film reviewer: 
http://www.theguardian.com/film/2001/nov/02/artsfeature
s.londonfilmfestival2001 )
I'm inclined to think that Scorsese made this movie because
its topic and extravaganza suited his tastes and his 
cinematic strengths ­­ gang of guys ­­ not because he cared 
so much about its rags to riches to rags story line. Quite 
likely because he wanted to revisit HIS OWN past 
revelries, his own "war stories", his glory days.
            —
tasherbean
@susan sunflower excellent comment. I don't know if you 

432

saw the movie "Jarhead" with Jake Gyllenhaal, (which I 
thought was actually a pretty good depiction of the hurry up
and wait aspect of life in the military) but the scene right 
before all the young Marine recruits were getting ready to 
ship out to Iraq, has them sitting in the Camp Pendleton 
movie theater watching and cheering crazily the famous 
helicopter attack scene in Apocalypse Now.......to make 
your point.

Emporium
@susan sunflower 
It's tough not to glorify people when it's their time. I've had 
managers at jobs who treat their employees abhorrently, but
a fair recounting of who was living the more interesting life
— them, or their unsettled employees — would mean for 
sure them. I live in a neighborhood that is gentrifying 
massively, and though I avoid their hangouts for their scent
of you're­meant­to­feel­it assertion, the better, more 
confident artistic expression, is there. 
Watch "Walter Minty." Here you get one of those guys 
who's devotion has kept a company relevant for twenty 
years +, but seems simply embarrassing when a company 
feels totally that it can transplant a template where no one 
means more than their role. Walter gets these great 

433

"prompts"—spirited "girlfriend"; grounded family; rugged 
hero who even the "wolves" salivate over in admiration — 
that end up meaning that though he loses his job, he can 
evolve into equal in presence to the "wolf on wall street" 
boss who has everyone else in his company cowed in fear, 
and whom the age, even the movie agrees, is mostly theirs 
now. 
This isn't necessarily more fun to watch than "Wolf". It 
doesn't admit to the masochism that it baits most in the 
audience with: feeling small lends to your surely being 
virtuous. And it's a lie: it's doubtful the few true Walter 
Mintys out there are living as enjoyably, as compellingly, 
as these assholes are. Sparks of inspiration — meet jet 
engine!
 Someone at the  NewYorker has just suggested these 
"wolves" are (“the Great Gatsby's”) Buchanan's point­of­
view, but this isn't true. Gatsby, was new wealth, when the 
old was feeling less sure of itself — and the wolves are 
feeling it. 
They're really Gatsby — those the age wants to inflate — 
stripped of course of all that otherwise commends, for our 
age being the punishment for a previous one's egoistic 
proclamation that human beings are good, and deserve — 
all of them; even the weak and gullible — to know 
happiness and pleasure.

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Emporium / Patrick McEvoy­Halston

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Labels: apocalypse now, david denby, Richard Brody, scorcese, the great gatsby, wolf on wall
street
Saturday, December 28, 2013

Noblesse oblige
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Everybody who writes about movies dreads making these
lists, yet all of us want to readeach other’s lists. Partly
we’re looking for affirmation, partly we’re looking for
ideas, and partly we’re looking for guidance on how to
approach this strange exercise in subjectivity and
perspective. I kept my movie-watching in 2013 to an almost
human scale at roughly 175 films, about half the number I
typically watched in the days of Salon’s “Beyond the
Multiplex” column. (I know plenty of people in and around
the film business who watch 450 to 500, or even more.)
Even so, you wind up faced with ridiculous conundrums:
How do I decide whether a contentious French drama
about a love affair between two young women is better or
worse than an absorbing and informative documentary set
in Tahrir Square? Can’t we say they’re both terrific, and
leave it at that?
Sure we could, but that would be cheating. I decided sit
down one day in mid-December and make the list quickly,
without much deliberation. I don’t fiddle with it for weeks
and I don’t try to make guesses about historical importance
or whatever; that won’t make me happier, and the odds that
I’ll look at it six months or a year from now and think I
screwed it up are pretty high in any case. Suffice it to say
that what everybody says about 2013 is true: It’s been an
explosive year for movies in general and especially for
American cinema. We may be in the “post-theatrical” age
but movies continue to play surprisingly widely on the big
screen, even as more and more people watch them at home,
on mobile devices or via brain implants. (OK, that

437

technology’s not quite ready, but just you wait.)
The 10 movies on this list all moved me, challenged me,
thrilled me and delighted me; I recommend them all
without hesitation. [. . .] 1. “Stories We Tell” 2. “12 Years
a Slave” 3. “Inside Llewyn Davis” 4. “Ain’t Them Bodies
Saints” 5. “Blue Is the Warmest Color” 6. “The Great
Beauty” 7. “The Square” 8. “The Invisible
Woman” 9. “Her” 10. “The Wolf of Wall Street” (The10
best movies of 2013, Andrew O'hehir, Salon.com)
----Douglas Moran
I'm trying to decide if the fact that I've not only not
seen any of these films but have no interest in seeing any of
them means: A) I'm a typical shallow, middle-class
American with middle-brow tastes; B) I don't get out often
enough; C) Andrew's taste is too highfalutin' for the likes of
me; D) None of the above.
One thing for sure: I'm never going to watch the hugelypraised "12 Years a Slave", which while I'm sure is an
excellent film, I know will depress the living crap out of
me. Life is depressing enough; I don't need to pay money
to see a film and be artificially depressed. I know this
makes me a plebe, but jeez. (It reminds me very much of
when the Glenn Close/John Malkovich "Dangerous
Liaisons" was released--I saw it based on the reviews, was
depressed as crap by it, and have never, ever wanted to see
it again.)

438

Andrew O'Hehir
@Douglas Moran All of the above, Doug. I mean, the
ordinary moviegoer wants something different than a critic
wants, and there's kind of no way around that. I'm not going
to pretend to be a populist, Gene Shalit style, if it doesn't
fit. I heard Vincent Canby talk about this years ago: When
you see 200+ movies a year, you become a specialist, and
you're looking for something you've never seen before.
Whereas ordinary moviegoers, by and large, want to see
essentially what they've seen before, done well or with a
new twist, and with a familiar outcome. The audience for
"12 Years a Slave" is inherently much smaller than the
audience for "Gravity" or "The Hobbit," and even the
audience for "Wolf of Wall Street" (with stars and glamour
but a somewhat "unsatisfying" conclusion) is somewhat
smaller.

Douglas Moran
@Andrew O'Hehir @Douglas Moran In all honesty, I
have no idea how you can watch that many movies in a
single year. I have to imagine that it changes your
perception, and have often thought that "uniqueness"
becomes far more of a sought-after quality for a critic than
"entertainment". So something that the great mass of
people will find entertaining, a huge percentage of critics
will either roll their eyes at or actively detest--"Sleepless in
Seattle" or "Love, Actually" being a couple of perfect

439

examples of that. Isn't there some quote about the familiar
becoming detestable, or something like that? When you
see 40 romantic comedies in one year (most bad), you've
got to get burned out on them. Or so I've thought.
Of course, when one goes to so few films in a particular
year, one is pre-disposed to want to like them. And then if
you don't, it's even more disappointing. Such was my
reaction to "Elysium", which was one of the few films I
made an effort to see this year, and which was basically,
"Meh". Which pissed me off mightily; "I spend all this
time, effort, and money, and all I get is 'Meh'? I'm going to
blog about this until my fingers fall off!" Etc.
And ironically, when one skips a film because of reviews
and then sees it on DVD or whatever and it turns out to be
okay, you may end up liking it better. Such was the case
for me with "Oblivion", which got (at best) "Meh" reviews,
but which wasn't too bad. So long as I didn't spent the
effort and time of going to a theater to see it.
With critics, the best one can do is find a critic who either
provides enough information, entertainment value, or
shares your opinions closely enough so as to be useful to
you. So although we seen it demonstrated many times that
your tastes are wildly different from mine, you write
informative and entertaining reviews that provide enough
data that allow me to make an informed decision. (I felt the
same with Charles Taylor, FWIW.) And given my
knowledge of your tastes, I know that I wouldn't enjoy "12
Years a Slave", no matter how goddamn awesome it is in

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some absolute, Platonic Ideal of a Film way. It would just
depress me, anger me, make me cry or outraged or
whatever, and my blood pressure doesn't need that. So I
skipped it.
But I won't stop reading your reviews. Even when you call
me a typical shallow, middle-class American with middlebrow tastes. So there! :)

Emporium
@Douglas Moran @Andrew O'Hehir This was like
something out of a Jane Austen novel.
The lord discusses aesthetic preferences with one of the
respected men in his nearby town—a pastor, an affluent
farmer, a doctor. The lord will be the master in this
conversation, but he takes care to give room for the town
leader to imagine himself less afflicted than the lord is, that
his comparative ignorance and suspicion of change is a sign
of his being contented in settled, rich, bourgeois propriety.
So the town leader for a moment gets to pretend he's master
in this conversation, by tending to the lord's affliction in a
way that highlights his own contentment. Chest out,
pleased in feeling a proprietor — who, being a small master
of the universe, is of course mostly just going to indulge in
daily contentment rather than jostling foreign novelty— he
then quickly lends the rest of his thought to acknowledging
the real superiority of the lord and the stultifying aspect of

441

his perpetual fixedness.
The lord has the refined intelligence and awareness; the
lord rightly has the authority to instruct. And he, even if he
harrumphs his way through the reviews, nevertheless still
listens. This doesn't make him a joke; he's still a battler. But
deep down he acknowledges his betters. In his middling
home set up so middlingly, on the table — even if mostly
unread — is apt to be the Times.
The town leader doesn't want the authority of the lord. He
feels comfortable in some place middling — the lords keep
the psychic terror "Krakens" at bay. But he likes that the
lord's preference for him owing to his being the ideal John
Bull-type the royalty can rely on, means he ranges his own
grounds with that much more righteous pomposity.
Here it means being an agent in the comment sections, who
may not be an O'hehir or a Taylor, but owing to their
concern to single him out in a friendly, acknowledging
fashion, he's a warden to everyone else.
For this empowerment, this flattering divine touch, of
course he's still reading his reviews, however much he's
thereafter openly begrudged. Mr Collins to Lady Catherine
de Bourgh, nothing ever will sink the truth benighted in this
grand moment of grace!

Douglas Moran

442

@Emporium @Douglas Moran @Andrew O'Hehir So if
I parse this correctly (which is hard, honestly, given the
length of your analogy), I only read O'Hehir's reviews
because he occasionally answers me with courtesy and
good humor in the comments section? Not because, as I
said, I find them informative enough to help me decide
which movies to see, but because he has shown me
Noblesse Oblige? Is that what you're saying?

Emporium
@Douglas Moran @Emporium @Andrew
O'Hehir @Douglas Moran @Emporium @Andrew
O'Hehir In true gentry style, his courteous, good-humored
reply had a lot of teaching in it — which some might find
plainly arrogant: critics pursue and are entertained by
novelty, something new and smart; ordinary people, by a
repeat of the same 'ol sack of shit. Under cover of the
ostensible key difference — number of movies watched —
is being pushed a class difference, a difference in quality of
person.
To which you replied you're still not going to see "12
years," even if God had placed all the wisdom of the
universe in it, if there's any risk of it spoiling your dinner.
But you're obliged to have had him visit, and ensure him
you'll keep reading his reviews to make sure you make an
informed decision as to which film out there won't depress,
anger, outrage, or unsettle your blood pressure in any way.
With such self-mockery here, I gathered you conceded that

443

the films he likes are probably those anyone who has a
larger stake in the world probably ought to watch. The
bumpkin was visited by a lord, and afterwards felt
contented and even thrilled.
So, yeah, I'm thinking noblesse oblige.

Douglas Moran
@Emporium @Douglas Moran @Andrew O'Hehir Ah, I
see; thanks for clarifying. I've got it now: You're a
pompous, pretentious bore who believes that, by reading
a couple of posts by people you don't know in any way
whatsoever and of whose past interactions you have zero
knowledge, you nonetheless feel informed and wise enough
to pass judgement thereon. Got it.
That will save me considerable time in the future should I
happen upon another of your comments; I'll simply skip
over it and save myself the trouble of trying to untwist your
tortured syntax. Thanks; appreciate it.
And by the way, Pro Tip: If you're going to use such overboiled phrasing and grammar, you might want to re-read
your comments before pressing the "Post" button. For
example, I "assured" Andrew; I didn't "ensure" him. Also,
a single return after a paragraph suffices. I'm sure on rereading other edits will occur to you, given your vast and
superior knowledge of the written form.

444


Andrew O'Hehir
@Douglas Moran I have to admit, this whole thing was
hugely entertaining. And one of my main reactions (to
myself) was: Dude, no freakin' way is some guy in the
comments going to out-marxist-analysis me!

Douglas Moran
@Andrew O'Hehir @Douglas Moran [laughter]
---------Emporium
@Andrew O'Hehir @Douglas Moran
When you see 200+ movies a year, you become a specialist,
and you're looking for something you've never seen before.
Whereas ordinary moviegoers, by and large, want to see
essentially what they've seen before, done well or with a
new twist, and with a familiar outcome.
This description of ordinary moviegoers would seem to
have nothing to do with how many movies they watch.
Anyone who wants to see what they've seen before with a
familiar outcome, isn't going to seem to naturally evolve
into someone who prefers the new and different if they
upped their viewing habits. Rather than finally yearn to barf
it up, then change it up, they'll eat their predictable bland

445

plate of steak and potatoes with the same insistent pleasure
Homer Simpson would his one-billionth donut.
That is, it's more honest to say that even if the critic can
only for some reason make it to ten rather than the two
hundred films they prefer or at least usually have to watch,
they just naturally are people who take most pleasure, not
in the repetition of thrills, but in the piquant, the fresh, the
new. They're beyond repetition-compulsion; are more
evolved than middlebrow — and it's not owing to practice.
There certainly are critics that are that. True leaders; better
than the average dope, I mean. Still, there's a good number
I reckon unconsciously pick choices they can imagine
leaving the mob in a fit of frustration. Became the critic, to
indulge the delight in stymying. Critic film geeks.
Emporium/Patrick McEvoy-Halston

12 Years a Slave (Review Part One)
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12 Years a Slave (Review Part One)
I've only seen one film this year that kinda gets at how
someone could become a person as sadistic as Fassbender's
slaveowner is in this film. Insidious 2 got how a little,
vulnerable boy, completely owned by an absolutely
terrifying mother, was going to have no chance building an
independent self apart from her. His life was on the line,
and you can imagine how a six or eight or however old a
boy he was, would have a brain formed largely on ensuring
he does nothing outside of what she wants. The point of life
... is to not be devoured. And the great homo sapiens brain
of his would be using all its evolutionary excellence to
contrive means to ensure he manages this--even if this
means making him into someone who would be to any sane
outsider, deviant, insane ... strangely ill-purposed to what

447

life would confront him with. The rest of the world does
not realize that this one brain alone negotiated avoiding
oblivion! What of if it if it's ill-purposed to manage
anything else in life, which after all might be about selfdevelopment and adventure, such strange, completely
uncountenanceable things, that are firmly known to be, for
that matter, completely disavowed for him by mother, when
life has clearly showed itself in its definitive first allimportant years of being experienced as only about
avoiding being killed? It was vital but young Ender in an
adult mission against a planet of bugs, and in a fever of
genius, it won! it won! it won! The full compass of the
universe was revealed, and in one hell of a pitched, ongoing
battle, a definitive victory was for all time achieved! What
the brain does, though, isn't quite what is shown in this
film. It doesn't figure out primarily how best to obey her-here by dressing up as a girl and disavowing himself as a
boy so to not remind his mother of her former husband--but
rather to be part of her, to be her. As her, he'd never need
worry about being devoured by her or, just as importantly,
losing her approval and feeling abandoned. In real life, the
young boy would have dressed up as a girl on his own
initiative--a replica, specifically of his mother, that is; not
just any odd female--rather than terrorized into it. And his
later development into a "Psycho" adult who dresses
evidently as his mother would have synced up. In real life,
too, he'd proceed further and be hunting down innocent
people, taking huge delight in sawing them up--what fun!
cackle! cackle! cackle!--because he'd be his mother, whom
his brain would only have let know as fully right to be so
devoted to terrorizing his innocent, vulnerable child-self,

448

for fear letting him be even in the smallest sense aware of
her true perversion would have lead to his being spotted
out. If despite knowing how she doesn't want you to see her
limitations, her thorough deviance (and trust me, she
doesn't), you actually were allowed by your brain to be
cognizant of her game, you'd also know she'd deem the
"you" you've revealed to yourself as permanently unworthy
of and removed from any further love--an impossible
actuality to accept. You've got, that is, to be consciously
only allowed to know her as a saint; someone you'd defend
against insults to the death ... that much more so if all she
does between stuffing herself with amusements is blender
babies into milkshakes. Each time he found a young victim,
he'd be more fully fused into his mother, and the vulnerable
child self that is intolerable to be reminded of, that much
more outside. Constant fusion into a sadistic alter, constant
victimizing of people representing his "guilty" child-self,
would be his life ... just as it is for the perenially sadistic
Fassbender.
Fassbender's slaveowner had a mother who did to him what
he does to his slaves? Yes, this is absolutely right. Every
slaveholder had one such mother, which is why, exactly,
slavery became institutionalized. The slaver shown in the
film who makes the slave stand for hours in a painful
position while he laxy-dazies ... yep, this is something that
slaveholder was afflicted with in his own childhood (I
knew something of this myself, with my mom lying on her
bed, reading fantasy books, eating cookies into a belly
contented that it could hold down four or five bagfuls, and
luxuriating, while I stood uncomfortably attending to her

449

like a eunech at attention before a Sultan queen).
Fassbender making even his prize slave, the one
unbelievably gifted at speed-gathering cotton, exist in so
much filth she wretches at her own smell ... yep, this is
what Fassbender himself endured by his mother during his
own childhood. Collectively, all the slaveholders making
their slaves into stinking, shit-stained, confined wretches,
recalls for me what the Germans did to Jews, Gypsies, and
"unsocials," when they re-inflicted their own horrible
childhood experiences onto them in the 30s and 40s. To
wit: upon a German's "birth, 'the wretched new-born little
thing was wound up in ells of bandages, from the feet right,
and tight, up to the neck; as if it were intended to be
embalmed as a mummy … babies are loathsome, foetid
things, offensive to the last degree with their excreta
…' Babies simply could not move for their first year of life.
A visitor from England described the German baby as 'a
piteous object; it is pinioned and bound up like a mummy
in yards of bandages … it is never bathed … Its head is
never touched with soap and water until it is eight or ten
months old.' Their feces and urine was so regularly left on
their bodies that they were covered with lice and other
vermin attracted to their excreta, and since the swaddling
bandages were very tight and covered their arms as well as
their bodies, they could not prevent the vermin from
drinking their blood. Their parents considered them so
disgusting they called them 'filthy lice-covered babies,' and
often put them, swaddled, in a bag, which they hung on the
wall or on a tree while the mothers did other tasks"
(DeMause, "Childhood Origins of World War 2 and the
Holocaust").

450

The whipping and lashes too, Fassbender and the rest of his
slaveholder ilk would have suffered? Once again--yup.
Very much--yup. Germans did this to Jews as well, as it had
been done to them by their parents: "It was brutal beating,
beginning in infancy, that visitors to Germany most
commented upon at the beginning of the twentieth century,
with the mother far more often the main beater than the
father. Luther’s statement that 'I would rather have a dead
son than a disobedient one' is misleading, since it implies
disobedience only was the occasion for beatings, whereas
mere crying or even just needing something usually
resulted in being punished. ' Dr. Schreber said the earlier
one begins beatings the better … One must look at the
moods of the little ones which are announced by screaming
without reason and crying [inflicting] bodily
admonishments consistently repeated until the child calms
down or falls asleep … one is master of the child forever.
From now on a glance, a word, a single threatening gesture,
is sufficient to rule the child.' Havernick found 89 percent
of parents admitted beating little children at the beginning
of the twentieth century, over half with canes, whips, or
sticks. The motto of German parents for centuries was
'Children can never get enough beatings.' They were not
just spankings; they were beatings with instruments or
whippings like Hitler’s daily whippings with a dog whip,
which often put him into a coma. (As Fuehrer, Hitler used
to carry a dog whip with him as he gave orders to be
carried out.) It is not surprising that German childhood
suicides were three to five times higher than other Western
European nations at the end of the nineteenth century, fears

451

of beatings by parents being the reason cited by children for
their suicides. No one spoke up for the children;
newspapers wrote: 'boy who commits suicide because of a
box on the ears has earned his fate.' The beatings continued
at school, where 'we were beaten until our skin
smoked.' Children could be heard screaming on the streets
each morning as they were being dragged to school by their
mothers. The schoolmaster who boasted he had given
'911,527 strokes with the stick and 124,000 lashes with the
whip' to students was not that unusual for the
time. Comparisons of German and French childhoods in the
late nineteenth century found 'no bright moment, no
sunbeam, no hint of a comfortable home [with] mother love
and care' in the German ones, with 'sexual molestation and
beatings at home and at school consistently worse in the
German accounts.' Ende’s massive study of German
autobiographies of the time found 'infant mortality, corporal
punishment, and cruelties against children' were so brutal
he had to apologize 'for not dealing with the 'brighter side'
of German childhood because it turns out that there is no
'bright side.' Other studies found most Germans
remembered 'no tender word, no caresses, only fear' with
childhood 'so joyless, so immeasurably sad that you could
not fathom it.' When Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that 'the
German people today lies broken and defenseless, exposed
to the kicks of all the world' both he and his reading
audience read this not as political metaphor but as the real
kicks of their parents and teachers and real memories of
lying broken and defenseless. The tortures of childhood
were far more traumatic and constant than the later studies
of 'authoritarianism' ever imagined. There was a good

452

reason that Germans and Austrians spoke so often about
their Kinderfeindlichkeit (rage toward children), and it is
this rage that is embedded in the early violent amygdalan
alters which is inflicted upon others in World War II and the
Holocaust. The child-hitting hand was even the symbol of
Nazi obedience, since the Nazi salute endlessly displayed
the open palm of their beating parents as they fused with
them, flush with opioids. 'Ghosts from the nursery'
embedded by extremely insecurely attached children were
displayed everywhere in Nazi Germany. To imagine tens of
millions of people 'just obeying Hitler' as though there were
no inner compulsion to inflict their nightmarish earlier
childhood tortures on others is simply absurd (DeMause,
"Childhood Origins").
12 Years a Slave does worse than Carrie did to nudge us
closer to understanding how someone could become a
thorough sadist, but, like that film, it does at least show
some truth: here, that slavers are less respectful and loving
people--not, that is, just people under some spell of a
collusion of adult preaching inflicted on them when they
were young; victims of ideology, that is. Fassbender and his
wife are colossal assholes, full of hate, full of desiring other
people--their slaves--to be subjugated for the wretched
crimes they committed. Benedict Cumberland, the nicest of
all possible slavers, knows at very near, at very, very, very
near a conscious level, that the clearly educated slave he's
purchased had to have once been free, to be someone he
himself would recognize as free if he met him while
touring the north, but won't let him go. The capacity of this
man to love, which is some, pales in comparison to the

453

attorney who arrives to free Northup, or more notably, Brad
Pitt, who movingly risks his own life to do so. But still, the
link to parenting isn't there, and we might just as well
assume that the institution itself poisoned them, stunted
them, than ever consider that each one of them might have
had a mother as terrifying as Fassbender's wife. If the film
had done that, shown that mother force her children to
know filth and whippings and abandonment for being
deemed willfully disobedient brats that needed to be
broken--even if as expected they were still groomed into
betters--what a wonderful and useful connection would
have been made: that is how a child could grow into an
adult who would find such righteousness in getting
disobedient underlings into line, not at all blanching when
whip stroke after whip stroke actually spooned chunks of
flesh out of people, and more likely being aroused by it (as
the Germans were, as they masturbated during their own
floggings of Jews). The approval from mom that every
small child needs, could only ever be found in wholeheartedly joining her cause.
But I'm going at this film as if we might be interested in
using it as an opportunity to test, refine, revise, or--rather
better--completely re-understand how an institution like
slavery could come into existence--letting the idiotic
economic rationale dissolve for good. But this would mark
progress, growth, and so this isn't something we're apt to be
doing. Rather, we're using this film as a reward to show that
we've refit our society that so innocuously we can watch a
film about a strictly two-tiered society--master, and slave-something ostensibly 150 years and a civil war behind us,

454

and be surprised by how much we involved ourselves in the
position of the slave. We increasingly see our own society
as two-tiered, with avenues of plausible climbing closed
off--the one percent vs. the ninety-nine. And this isn't
because reality has forced us off our preferred conception
of living in something multi-tiered, involving the essential
middle class. Instead, we knew a long while ago that we
wanted something stratified, with the upper-echelon a class
apart, and set things in motion so that even when massive
bank-loan leveraging was keeping us housed and up with
every electronic trick, our outer reality would soon rather
better reflect the "Kantian" schema we were game to force
onto it. We're in a period of penance, where because
previous collective growth was making us feel terrifyingly
abandoned, as it recalled how in our youth our own
emerging self-attendance eventually drew anger from our
immature mothers for it meaning a permanent turn away
from having up to that point mostly focused our existence
around her, we feel compelled to shut it down so to know
her back with us. We kill the growth we've accrued; we kill
the potential to grow; and familiarize ourselves with
"stuckness"; and life more and more becomes us as
children not yet old enough to leave the hearth--the fragile
ninety-nine percent--in the perpetual company of entitled
parents--the obstinately set, one. She's there, our mom's
there; and even if she's aloof and removed, she's not mad,
not angry: even if we're not all acting like good children,
we do the essential part and communicate that owned
children "is" who we are, and that we won't be doing any
shifting of structure for a good long while (like the last
Depression, about twelve years?). Her enemies--emissaries

455

of real growth--will, unless they're mostly going to be
incorporated into making our "parents" lives easier or more
luxuriant, become our own, as we either chase any one with
any notable new ideas out of public view or somehow make
it possible that even if they were a glorious new dawn
visited upon us ... we're just not seeing it, sorry. So we have
a culture where James Wolcott appropriately writes:
"Although we live in a culture of uncircumcised snark, it
actually seems a more deferential time to me, the pieties
and approved brand names--Cindy Sherman, Lena
Dunham, Quentin Tarantino, Junot Diaz, Mark Morris,
Judd Apatow, John Currin (feel free to throw other names
into the pot)--more securely clamped down over our ears."
Where "today's social media making even the meanest
rattlesnakes mend their ways in the hope of being liked,
friended, and followed in numbers sufficient enough not to
be mortifying." If you're "in," you stay in. If you're out, you
should know the part you're assigned--and it's to be as if
marked by something intangible and intransigent that
you're always a step down. You can be like Northrup and
play your fiddle like a genius, or instruct on how to
engineer a way through a stuck problem that'd only fail to
impress the most trenchantly set against you, but not if it's
to prove the point that as much as anyone, you don't really
belong where you're stationed. "Parents," the one percent,
are playing a role as well, something collectively assigned
to them, only they just don't know it. I think it is this
unconscious knowing that they've masochistically,
unselfishly, surrendered themselves to playing a part-which remains, even if hard to see, still very much a
demeaning surrender of human potential--that is buoying

456

some of the pleasure they're taking in living these days ...
opiates flowing from felt parental approval. I admit I'm
mostly thinking of those like the ones Walcott mentions
here, those of the liberal literate elite, who are evidently
not perturbed that they all share the same habits and
assumptions to the degree that the dullest gentry-clot did in
centuries past. They're not about moving us ahead, but
about station--manners have become the point itself,
something which really is just a lubricant when gentry's on
one of its roles and Byronesque genius gets to come out of
them as much as from any ambitious Shakespeare
merchant' son. You listen to their discourse, and you know
they're no trolls. The Gandalf who rows up the pleasantoffered cheerful "good morning!" with contestation and
complication ... in today's climate, he's but another of the
trolls who's descended down from the mountains. He'd
quickly learn to stifle it, and next time by master Baggins'
he'd be, "yes, yes, it is a good morning! Indeed so! Sorry to
disturb you, and thanks again for your kind remembrances
about my fireworks .. though remember if you can to like
my "Good Old Grandpa Gandalf"
fireworks Facebook page; every bit helps, you know!" and
he'd shuffle off as quick as a fox, as tamed as the pathetic
car-buffing Biff, to chance disturbing the morning no
further. Society would be one further up on propriety, and
shorn one possible mega disturbance; and even if they were
made aware that in subscribing him into the role of a doorto-door salesman it cost them one potentially world-saving
wizard, it'd still be felt as completely worth it.
Paul Krugman recently recounted the damages that have

457

been afflicted by our current austerity-maintained
Depression: "These dry numbers [he, writes,] translate into
millions of human tragedies--homes lost, careers destroyed,
young people who can't get their lives started. And many
people have pleaded all along for policies that put job
creation front and center. Their pleas have, however, been
drowned out by the voices of conventional prudence. We
can't spend more money on jobs, say these voices, because
that would mean more debt. We can't even hire unemployed
workers and put idle savings to work building roads,
tunnels, schools. Never mind the short run, we have to
think about the future! The bitter irony, then, is that it turns
out that by failing to address unemployment, we have, in
fact, been sacrificing the future" (NYT, Nov. 7 2013). We're
inflicting a lot of damages to ourselves, a lot of anxiety.
This is important, because when you take into
consideration how even when jobs were leaving us and our
incomes were wilting away, banks were still enabling us all
the stuff we wanted for a further twenty years, it undoes all
the accruing we had been doing pretty much without pause
since World War 2. Further, it's adding "revenue" of despair
into a pot that will eventually fill so that we sense that
enough joy has now finally been sacrificed to our mothers-she's mollified, and satiated--that we kinda now feel safe to
begin to tip toe away from her and embark outside on real,
undetermined adventure, while she goes on a severaldecade-long snooze. But it's a mistake to say these figures
delineate only misery. When we know we've succeeded in
making deep sacrifices happen, Mother is with us, not
going to leave us, and we know a kind of contentment--one
that even liberates, and enables some fun ... if we go about

458

things properly. The recent Thor movie tries a wee bit to
explain why the Norse aristocracy--an empowered King
and Queen--is just, but it barely bothers. We feel watching
this movie that those creating it and those watching it will
just accept the aristocracy as normal, not because we're
dealing with old gods but because it's how we're attending
to our own society as well (note the recent
hopeless Salon effort reminding people not to focus so
much on the "Queen" battle of Hillary vs. Elizabeth Warren
as it's the "little people" congressional battles that'll matter
most), and would have as the new normal, rather than
anything queerly demos. And there's no wishing in the
movie from the "little people" for any mollification. The
intern Ian who is throughout the movie referred to as
"intern" rather than by name, objects, but mostly shows that
... whatever, it's out of his power. For his shrugging, for his
acceptance and mostly non-complaint, for his willingness
to let himself be used and mildly abused and for showing
that if he spent the rest of his life as he just might in a
role perennially servile to an actual scientist with multiple
degrees, that, well, that's just what life's allotted him, the
movie grants him a boon: at the finish he gets to do
something heroic and strong, and thereafter receives
admiration and a kiss from the senior intern--even if it
means once more being the passive. Ian's the Northrop in
12 Years, who for doing remarkable things ... who for
showing that even doing something really accomplished
need not press on being a class challenge, he gets rewarded.
Just like in the Great Depression, we're going to see a lot of
people in servile roles in movies, and take note that when
you hear them complain, about "what a lady has got to do

459

to get a buck or a bit of respect in this here depression," or
whatever, what you'll be hearing is less tearing down the
walls and more their being resigned to them. It needn't be
done so loud that you're cognizant that the cages somehow
seem surer after "your" complaint; just loud enough that it
registers with your masters.
As a side note, if you're incapable of actually drilling
yourself to want to live in a dream-inhibiting age, if you're
one of those genuinely good liberals, birthed of truly loving
parents, who believed that Occupy's facilitation of society's
understanding of itself as of master and servants was
something other than our conceding that we've roomed our
house as we would like it, and instead as a sure prelude to
insurrection and thereafter an equal society, these could be
real tough times for you in particular. I'm thinking
specifically now of Robert Frost's sister, a liberal, whom his
brother had committed into an insane asylum during WW2.
Morris Dickstein writes that "with a history of violent
outbursts, Frost's sister had grown increasingly hysterical
about the war, yet Frost [...] paints her as the paradigm of a
liberal gone berserk, a bleeding heart who really bled. 'I
really think she thought in her heart that nothing would do
justice to the war but going insane over it.' He, on the other
hand, was fatalistic and self-protective, the kind of
conservative for whom there's very little anyone can do to
alter the basic conditions of life, which include going crazy
and dying. For his sister, he says, 'one half the world
seemed unendurably bad and the other half unendurably
indifferent. She included me in the unendurably indifferent.
A mistake. I belong to the unendurably bad.' 'It was

460

designed to be a sad world,' he later wrote to Untermeyer"
("Dancing in the Dark").
EndFragment
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Labels: 12 Years a Slave, james wolcott, lloyd demause, morris dickstein, paul krugman, thor the
dark world
Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Circle, part two
The Circle
It's difficult to figure out why everyone is so ready to laugh
at the humiliated Carrie in Carrie. We're told at the
beginning that it's the popular gang's fault, where everyone
else laughs along so to not be caught out and be deemed
part of her very dubious camp. And this is substantiated at
other times, when one or two kids show that, when no one's
really attending, they're quite prepared to interact with her
as if she might not have the plague. But then again, when
the prom's on, and they laugh at her while she's covered
with blood, it's impromptu, immediate, reflex: there's no
calculation of what is expected of them, they simply
automatically in chorus respond in awful jeering. So, what?
Kids can be mean? Except they're not really quite kids

461

anymore. So, people can be? Except not everyone is.
There's not an ounce of it in the gym teacher. Nor in a few
others who met her at the prom and reacted to her openly.
The film has an inkling to show that the inclination to
empathize has something to do with what kind of parents
we have. The popular girl, who almost immediately realizes
how horrible it is to torture this dismayed girl, is shown to
have as a mother someone who goes out her way to try and
make Carrie's own oddball mother feel appreciated. And
the dastardly evil girl is shown to possess a big business
father who is entirely indifferent to people he judges as not
really mattering. But then again, no one has a mother as
grievous as the one Carrie possesses, and there's no hint in
the film that Carrie has any inclination to torture the
exposed and vulnerable. Her own "bullying" at the end, is
really just self-exertion, as she found herself either
terrifyingly confined or horribly hounded.
The reason kids bully does not owe, fundamentally, to
someone's foreignness. They actually recognize their
similarity to the bullied profoundly, but often not
consciously. The loner, the exposed, the insecure, is
themselves, not when they were first in school, or any such,
but when they were younger than that, when they were
infants, and they badly needed attendance, and over and
over and over again, didn't get it. This is the very opposite
of nothing to a child, and more closer to the apocalypse
bearing down. It changes your brain, for instance. Installs
the superego, to make sure you never do whatever caused
you to be in that situation again. Since the only thing you
could conclude is that it was your vulnerability and

462

neediness which was to blame, your brain makes sure that
when you see the vulnerable the capacity to empathize gets
shut down, and takes any course to make sure you see this
person as not the once-you you can never let yourself
remember, but as someone foreign. If you just saw this
person as different from you it wouldn't be enough, though,
for if that was all that you were when you were left alone
and unattended, then it would make your parents seem
culpable, as it's paltry excuse just to abandon someone. You
judge it instead as criminal, as guilty. And in taking the
"guilty" down, you show the rightness in your parents once
having abandoned you, thereby keeping them those who
wouldn't be offended by your inner-most thoughts, thereby
still maintaining them as potential sources of provision and
love. So now you understand why Carrie, humiliated in
ways that would recall one being a soiled, shit-stained child
(twice covered in running dirty pools of excretions) would
red-alarm people to suddenly wish her to be laughed at and
hounded into a crunched-down, crumpled form. Of course,
this means that a whole lot of us were possessed of hardly
perfect parents, cause if we weren't, the vulnerable would
only draw our sympathy, and we'd all be closer to the
welfare state of Sweden, where even when it's in its worst
moods there's no chance they'd leave a portion of their
populace to the wolves in the same fashion still-awfulparent-afflicted U.S.A does. How bad portions of the U.S.A
are, is revealed by how even after everyone has agreed
we're in a Depression, it's nothing at all for many states to
summon the legitimacy to think the proper next order of
things is to cut food stamps.

463

The reason why I'm bringing up why kids would want to
torture a helpless, panicky Carrie in this discussion of the
Circle, is because I'm a little concerned that when I hear
people say Dave Eggers' book has changed the way they
see our public-share networks, what has really happened is
that they have recognized the helpless Carrie of this book
and taken Eggers' pro-offered route to count themselves
mostly of the "outside." Near the end of the book, Mae
Holland is in hysteria over the world-wide publicized fact
that some people in her company do not like her. It drives
her crazy, as she becomes someone who in dismay
cherishes the completion of "the circle" as those who've
lost their efforts to remain human spend their days with
meth cheeks and maddened eyes chuckling in anticipation
of the apocalypse. She's the child who when first left alone
screams and tantrums, but after sustained, prolonged
ignoring, quietens down like one of Harry Hallow's isolated
monkeys, as what was right in them to keep them for so
long trying has left them for good. Mae in this novel isn't
the exception; everyone who believes in the circle who
doesn't instantly get the approbation they need, panics in
heightened alarm. Not responding instantly to an e-mail
sets one off into hysterical crazy land. Another by the
possibility that his constant pre-ejaculating might make him
less than a perfect ten out of ten lover. Eggers may want us
to believe that those furthering the circle, killing every bit
of privacy left in the world, and making everyone else at
least pretend smile while in their company, are fascists,
sharks devouring everything else contained in the tank with
them. But I really think it is this show of them that sticks-the alarmed, besotted, powerless infant, that is.

464

So in her we recognize, or rather we find, our early
childhood powerless selves, but rather than identify with
her, with our once-selves, Eggers nudges us to use her
instead as a place to keep those nasty nagging things safely
posited. She can carry all our early-life vulnerability, and
we can laugh at her for it, mock her, as we feel compelled
to do, without an inkling of guilt. For though she
fundamentally is our childhoods, we can certainly just think
of her as Eggers would have us, as produced in adulthood,
owing to letting herself get lost in company think. We can
safely mock her Carrie-like horrible exposure, because she
let herself get so upset over learning that 3% of the
company didn't like her, rather than let herself leisure in
knowing how the whole rest of the human pie could not
have been more pleased. How greedy can any one get!
How needy! And if she's alone, it's clearly her fault:
repeatedly outsiders, former friends/lovers, have tried to
talk sense to her, tried to reveal for her the cult-think she
was adopting, and she nudged them out of the picture, or
forced them to the point where any further bothering would
put them at desperate risk. And we can be those in the book
who have little delight in the prospect of the completion of
the circle, the supposedly powerless and at risk--but in real
life actually those who believe the worst damage of our
times are going to hit those for whom
facebook/twitter/constant share are the only things going
for them; and despite their own participation, this clearly
isn't them. Something we help cement by declaring, after
reading the book, that our own facebook/twitter lives is
going to be allowed to droop a notch. Unlike "you" the lost,

465

who we'll likely see next chasing down with bats any poor
sod who failed to "like" your latest insipid post, a bit more
of our private lives will once again be kept under wraps.
We're seeing great rewards in turning cold--our withholding
will surely set you all deliciously off! and so more of our
unwanted selves can be drooped into you. Thanks in part to
you, dear Dave.
Eggers might be regressing to old form. I first remember
him for his magazine Might. It was a very clever thing, but
nasty as well--Bender from the Breakfast Club taking
people down a notch: if he's not happy, why should you be
allowed to be? It's been called one of the origins of snark
into our contemporary culture, but I remember it most for
its interest in leaving the audience feeling played. Eggers
and the subject he was writing on was in on the trick-someone or another young and famous ostensibly dying,
for instance--but we'd come to realize that our desire to be
in the know was being allowed to come to the forefront of
our consciousness, our desperate need to feel as smart,
knowing, and cool as these whip-smart under-30s, and
about that time forced by the reveal to sit sunk for a
crushing while in the dank regrettable stinking dark pool of
it. Abused and sodden. Exposed as needy as hell. With
Eggers likely snickering ...Why should we be allowed to be
happy?
If we apply a bit of the humanism from another hipsterproduced effort--the Royal Tenenbaums--to our reading of
the book, we'd realize that her being upset at being
reminded that some few refuse her acknowledgment, isn't

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necessarily a silly thing. In the Tenenbaums, each child for
awhile was getting every accolade from every source, but
when their father ended up hardly caring, that was all that
mattered, and they stopped even being able to try. Many of
us, like them, are in striving to complete our own circle of
approval, just trying to undue our mother and fathers not
being sufficiently interested ... not being genuinely
interested, in the person beyond the eager projections they
self-servingly placed onto us--demon, angel, hero, genius,
ungrateful filthy scum, or whatnot. If it's one out of
hundred, or three, the sole "exception" always harkens back
to them.
It's such an obvious thing, when we're inclined to
understand.
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Labels: carrie, dave eggers, royal tenenbaums, the circle
Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ender's Game
Ender's Game
One of things that is supposed to be notable about Ender, is
that he encourages other kids to think for themselves and
chip in. He is even reminded of this just before his biggest

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battle against the bug aliens. So what does he in fact do?
He leaves all his other commanders' forces to be sacrificed,
and therefore left with nothing to individually command.
How nice it would have been to see the focus pulled off
him, as he ostensibly wishes, and actually witness some of
the other commanders make decisions. But we don't get
that, and instead the sense that all we need is one great
leader, and everyone else might as well being prompt,
order-applying drones. A good pilot or good gunner might
get some special accolades--nice flying/gunning, ace!
especially you, cutie!--but not for any property of
leadership. Maybe one of the reasons he has so many
sympathy for the Queen alien, is that he's effectively
looking in the mirror. The two boss commanders, vastly
superior to everyone else, in discussion, in camaraderie,
after battle: "I alone know how you feel."
He's upset over his genocide, but how about making his
own species shrug its shoulders and leaving Earth's purpose
mostly all to him? We could try, but he'd do it ten times
better anyway, so what's the point. I'll let an actual drone do
my part, and be in the bar remembering the days when
human volition had a demonstrable point. You all can go
about still worshipping him if you like.
In actual truth, though, he--or his representatives in
history--is not really special at all, atypical. But rather
instead brilliantly representative of the current appetites of
the people. Hitler was in in Germany, only because he
wanted it as bad as Germans did. He directed the German
"finger," this way or that. But the choice wasn't his whether

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or not to pull out the gun. If he was distinctive, they'd
actually look past him, picking even an imbecile over him,
to imagine as superhuman--which is what they had done for
him, after all--if he's as thirsty for punishment, murder, and
massive wasteful human sacrifice as self-punishment for
the terrible sin of having enjoyed life too much, as they
were. The best leaders, the ones remembered as singular, as
genius, always end up being the bloodiest ones ... the point
is, they delivered the gross blood bath we wanted, and for
as much we're willing to dress them up, however
preposterously, as if they were fundamentally neat-freak
creatures of tactics and calibration.
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Labels: ender's game
Friday, November 1, 2013

The Circle (Dave Eggers)
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The Circle
Dave Eggers clearly thinks most of us have become
incredibly needy and paranoid—guessing that anyone who
is private, is doing so to deliberately withhold approval
from us, and must be chased down and punished. There is a
scene in this book where the main protagonist is going to
pieces upon learning that 3% of her workplace doesn’t like
her. All she can do is imagine who they might be, and
wonder how they might be courted to her. Our collective
regression to the emotional state of an abandoned child, is
according to Eggers what could empower our wanting
some giant company—a Google gone total world

470

domination, for instance—to have everyone in some way
under wraps. Little lollypop Google icameras everywhere,
ensuring no one does anything that might be felt by our
Earth hoard as a snubbing. Terrorism isn’t the issue. Nor
really crime or racist behavior. It’s that someone if they
could would “unfriend” you, if only if it could be done
anonymously.

Gravity
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Gravity
I almost don’t want a movie to provide a simulacrum of
what it might be like to be out in space right now.
Engineers, and other employees whose brains are 90%
scientific data, still after fifty years of space inhabitation,
holding court over who gets to tell us what it’s like to see
your home planet from the outside--how we might prefer to
be in the situation where only Apollo and his lute was able
to express the same. We think New Mexico, and we don’t
only think of cowboy yokels bearing daily witness to desert
beauty, but artists, poets, hippies, doing so. Space, however,
is kept rigidly by those who see nothing amiss in their
space station--the ostensible center for a community in
space--being as cold and human-indifferent as any structure
nearly forgetting it was built not just to withstand, but to
house. When Sandra Bullock’s character peeps into her
shuttle, the objects that float out aren’t items of décor, of
domicile, but a Space Jam character--the difference in
inner-life between any of them and your typical cubicle
geek, is slight. I could handle it if this was critique--they
made the main protagonist a likely NPR listener, after all-but it’s apparent the filmmaker kind of liked that the
heritage of space still isn’t something we could imagine
anyone knitting an afghan cover for. Throw a nervous Betty
in midst of it, and it'll be a perpetual struggle for her to

472

keep herself together--one doohickey into a slot, is about
what she could manage--and that with relief. Which would
contain her.
Part of me followed, immersed myself in Bullock’s
character, with gratitude all the way appreciating her being
at the forefront of heart-palpitating situations we can relate
to. Part of me just balked at the whole thing, fixed on some
corner of the screen, and kept my own composure whatever
was happening. It's an hour and a half of struggle-something perhaps only soldiers and Formula One drivers
and James Cameron, never cease to want to re-experience.
The rest of us remain wary that if we too often brace
ourselves against assaults, we'll get to the point where we
never quite relax all the way out again. At the end she
tasted the relief of being in a medium--the sea--where she
had more control, those toned muscles, useless in space,
getting to visibly, kinetically show they were worth all the
hard work. I felt like telling her she should insist this be the
worst inhibition she should ever let herself know--if space
for us must still be first fish crawled onto land, we should
let it go until the worst sublimation it can inflict still leaves
us knowing the evolved flex of our substantial
monkeydom.
EndFragment
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Labels: gravity
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

(Still Pending) Response to commenter
Reuben Thomas, on Richard Brody's review
of 12 Years a Slave
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Reuben Thomas:
To me Brody does not get it. "Django unchained" is the
film you want to see after seeing "12 years a slave". The
last one simply came after. And I'm pretty sure of the
historical existence of characters like the one depicted by
Samuel L. Jackson in Tarantino's movie...
But it mystifies me more that Brody does not seem to be
able to infer through his own imagination any of the
realities actually suggested by both films. If we accept that
it's actually impossible for even all of the slavery related
films as a whole to narrate every single moment of real-life
historical abuse, then we should offer our own minds to
fill-in the blanks as homage to the effort and as proof of our
own capacity for compassion. It's like Brody were saying
that the current world is in such a state that without the
explicit nature of these images we can no longer gather
enough empathy against slavery.
I agree that empathy is lacking, but only because both films
fail when they show the horrors of slavery as the result of
the actions of madmen. The horrors of slavery were the
result of the acts of psychologically sound businessmen and
plantation entrepreneurs. People like you and me. People
who truly believed in the inferiority of the black race and
the need for slaves to sustain an economy and a way of life.
Come on, even a war was fought around these "facts". I

475

wish a film would come and actually show that
@reubenthomas Slavery was the result of madmen--or
rather, people who were brutalized by their parents when
they were young. When collectively childrearing is brutal
enough, it leads to institutions where a populace re-afflicts
the horrors inflicted upon them upon some simulacrum of
their innocent, vulnerable childhood selves--what Germans
in the 30s were getting themselves prepared to do. If you're
the type to enjoy good parent Richard Brody's writings,
you're way beyond being someone who could be
indoctrinated into seeing any institutionalized human
torture as okay. Doesn't matter if your head was drained of
all prior teachings; unless somehow they excavated all the
love you received out of you--you're beyond them.
I also have major doubts about slavery as about good
economy, but little that most people want to flee
considering how the particular nature of their childhoods is
still afflicting them. The typical historian's method of
evasion, is to see humans as essentially the same--as
rational, homo economicus. Trust me, the societies that
were abandoning the institution of slavery, did so
fundamentally because through increased love from
generation to generation, they'd become people who no
longer felt the perverse need.
The Africans that were stolen out of Africa, what were their
societies like? Did they possess institutions as abhorrent as
slavery? If so, that was something they were going to have

476

to work out of themselves, through the same means-increased empathy from mother to daughter, gradually over
generations--as well.
Link: Richard Brody's review of 12 Years a Slave (New
Yorker)
EndFragment
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Carrie
Carrie
There's a moment in Carrie when Carrie becomes remote
from us, not owing to the carnage she wrecks, but to her
being possessed of a self-assuredness there's no way we'd
be able to match. Her mother, attempting to prevent her
from seeking a life for herself which might allow some
pleasure, bangs her own head repeatedly against a wall,
with sufficient force it might lead to breaking herself open.
Carrie watches it, but insists on her own life anyway, letting
her mom break herself into brain pulp, if such is her wont.
This was what she was going to need to do to individuate,

477

push on despite being guaranteed that if her mom could no
longer physically desist her by scaring her to holy hell with
knives or carting her off into isolation closets, she'd
probably slit her own wrists before her, to show her the
wreckage her "selfish" pursuits were inflicting physically,
emotionally, psychically on her. She's basically Rose in
Titanic, who ultimately told her own mother to shove the
hell off, even though this was going to bottom her mother-high in lineage, but nada in riches--out, but somehow with
a much, much, much more daunting mother, and without
someone--apologies to the good gym teacher--near Angelsent to temper her the strength to do it. Intent on going to
the prom, she telekinesises her mother into a closet, fuses
any possible exit, and embraces a new world. The world is
set-up to turn on her, as it turns out, and when she turns on
it, it's less out of shock and rattled umbrage and more as if
out of now familiar, superb, quite controlled and evenpleasurable rebuttal (great! I get to use these powers again-and in an even larger venue!). The confidence in which she
directs and motions her carnage, the presumption, without
hesitation configuring how aptly to direct the environment
to butcher the particular wretched kid she's caught sight on,
is more or less the same we saw in her disabling her maniac
mom when she'd become immune to her. We take stock of
her at the end, and with her poise, apt calculation, and
tremendous power, with her not seeming to have done in
anyone who didn't deserve it--it's mostly the real nasties,
like the corrosive black-haired twinish girls, who are
squashed down into trampled-down floor rugs like the
deflated evil witches in Wizard of Oz, who are done in, but
everyone in the crowd was laughing at her covered in pig's

478

blood while video played of her terrible shower
humiliation... so what loss, really, any of them?--I basically
ignored the finish and imagined her carted off by Professor
Xavier. She'd beat down her mom and home, beat down her
school and small-minded, hipster-absent town (hipsters
would have admired her aesthetic and askew beauty), and
now was really just ready for bigger game. Not, that is, to
be herself quit by death, and folded into a lesson for smaller
people.
I'll admit, though, that I actually did identify with her some.
When I was about to leave my mother and embrace the
wider world, I would find her lying as if dead, in midst of
some house pathway I would have to cross. Since she knew
I knew she was performing, and that this would be amongst
a number of innumerouses I would have to ignore just to go
about my own day, she knew I would have to step over
her--as if she, a bum on the street, and I, the callous--and
that by doing so, no matter my awareness of what she was
doing, there was still a gamble-worthy chance I would still
feel doomed by some rightful, me-overlording judge as
having done the unpardonable: "Your mother was lying on
the ground, possibly sprawled in death, and you
just walked over her ... you did this, to your mother!!! I
don't care what kind of hinderances she presented you with,
you crossed the line, and are the saddest, most selfish, most
demonic cad ever born to earth! Your fate is to be cursed
with guilt after every fun thing you do, never-ending--and
this only to start!"
There's another way I know I could have identified with

479

her, harnessed her power of self-righteousness, but chose
not to. When Carrie explains why her mother is wrong to
hem her in, she doesn't just do this by explaining the
innocuousness of such normal life events like the prom, the
rightness every human being has to participate in and try
and enjoy them, but effectively by chastising her mother as
being self-centered and selfish. Referring, that is, to her
own powers of telekinesis, she explains that this power is
actually fully normal to their shared mother-daughter
lineage, only that it skips every other generation. She
makes her mother's preference that her daughter understand
it only as Satan's "gift," a betrayal of the whole story of
their heritage, a wilful ignorance of bloodline and history,
that selfishly makes her own self more normal--or rather,
better, less sin-ridden--than her daughter. She makes her
seem a selfish rebellion against her own telekinesisempowered mother! The way we can do the same with our
own parents, is by finding a way to make our generation
seem more akin to our parents' parents, with their own
selves the historical aberration. This is okay-easy for gen
xers to do, but easy-peasy for millennials, for, like them,
baby boomers' parents were defined by their living the
great span of their youth in hope and dream-inhibiting
Depression times. The baby boomer parent points a finger
at their millennial kid, calling them spoiled and selfish, and
the crafty millennial, perhaps looking at their own lifestyle
of "Kinfolk"--read overtly ancestral, paradingly
masochistic, grandfatherly and sparse--ways, sees the
absurdity of someone built out of decades of prosperous
post-war years chastising someone who like the 1930s
sufferers, doesn't even feel guaranteed any kind of job. To

480

them, a house and a car, isn't bottom-level middle class-what everyone who doesn't live on the street could
possess--but a sign that you've gotten lucky and hit upon a
career path vixen, unaccountable Future gloriously spared
by shining some favor on. To be called spoiled,
increasingly invites a collective glare back ... a judgment,
against the abominable absurdity of the revealed exploiter
still insisting morality has anything at all to do with them.
Depression Nazi Youth, against their own Weimer-spoiled,
dessert-fattened, bourgeois parents, that is.
If we adopt this strategy in categorizing away our own
parents, it would amount to the same sin the same afflicted
upon this movie. Carrie makes the link between Carrie and
her grandmother in order to isolate her mother, and this
comes at the cost of appreciating that this grandmother-surely having come at her own daughter as menacingly as
Carrie's mother did with Carrie--is equally as dismissalworthy. Further, it comes at the cost of understanding why
exactly her mom was as crazy as she was (do we really buy,
considering what the film shows of maternal power, that it
owed to religion?), why she was confined for life to
appreciate pleasures as the worst possible thing in the
world, the great villain in the world, that everyone
attempting to be selfless and holy will crusade against. Very
likely, it comes at the cost of appreciating that her mother,
in actually desisting against the voice in her telling her to
kill her new-born child, and choosing instead to keep and
hold and temporarily tend to her, may have been doing
something heroic, in relation to her lineage's history. Some
part of her daughter, she was able to believe, deserved to be

481

loved--something she herself may have had even less
experience of.
I'll end this review by mentioning how much I appreciated
the popular high school couple in this movie. It was
moving for me to see the girl, especially, trying to figure
out how to make amends to Carrie, not just to expunge
guilt, but because she wanted her mended and happy. It was
a miracle to see her boyfriend manage his prom date with
Carrie, without either making her feel she was being set-up
or not truly of interest to him. He wanted to convey how he
felt, that she was interesting, and that he was pleased to be
her date, could very readily have a good time with her, and
did very well with this. He moved her to allow herself a
little bit more time with him, an hour more at the afterparty, perhaps--the baby-steps forward toward larger
happiness she was still going to need. When the bucket
crashes down and kills him, I almost wanted to stop the
movie there. He and his girlfriend have a lot going for them
to make them feel they could manage whatever hit they
might take through so publicly befriending the most
despised person in school, but they weren't guaranteed to
float though. It was lovely courage, and terrific love, and
they deserved much better.
Posted by Patrick McEvoy-Halston at 10:37 AM No comments: Links to this post
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Labels: carrie
Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don Jon
Don Jon
It's a considerable task put to Julianne Moore's Esther for
her to present as the preferable alternative to porn as porn
and our porn-watcher are presented here, and I don't think
she manages it. Jon--the watcher--has his life perfectly
compartmentalized. There's his time at the dinner table, his
time at the gym, his time at church and the confessional, his
time at the bar with his friends, his time in bed with this
week's select girl, and his time afterwards in porn--summed
up nicely each time with a single crumpled up tissue sent
into a black waste bin--and in none of these activities does
he feel a disadvantage. I mean by this that though he's a
millennial and not an owner of a home, nor of a job that
puts him outside of being defined as a loser or as
underclass servile--he's a bartender--he's not mastered in
his family home, his job place, amongst his friends, nor
anywhere else, exempting sex, whose for-him arduous
quality requires a besting amendment. His life seems
perfect, an already commendable, substantial realization for
anyone fraught with being a mastered young man ill-placed
to make any kind of stake against the world, until rather
than settle for his usual 8-or-9-in-hotness babe he goes after
a 10, and he starts loosing leverage over his life. Scarlett
Johansson's Barbara culls Jon to her powerfully, and each
step towards her she uses to adulterate him in a way more

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amenable to her. Julianne Moore is too old to be within the
echelon of women Jon and his friends would even rate, and
is more like someone sage--an Obi Wan ... or a croon,
even--needling him insights to loosen and unroot him from
an allegiance to a sun-radiant sashaying shrine of a woman
he can do little but obey and forbear. She also gets him to
rethink his attachment to porn, by showing him that a great,
nurturant, reciprocal relationship with a woman--with her,
in this case--can give him the high he thought only
obtainable through it.
In effect, what she's doing is akin to unrooting someone to
their obsession with, say, texting, to spend more time
directly involving himself with people. Once you know
how great a real-life conversation can be, you'll lose your
interest in the shallows of more generic and detached
conversations ... ostensibly. But clearly to millenials there
is worse than something detached and not entirely
satisfying, and that is, that whatever is too pronounced and
of too much affect can subjugate your shallow defences and
eventually overwhelm and subjugate you. That phone call
that you think communicates more than the text, that is
obviously a better, a richer, form of communication, is to
millenials an affect-loaden, commanding mother's harague
that can't be dialed down into something just font and text,
on a device never stripped of its potency as an authoritative
cultural object to diffuse everything communicated into it
into a community that has been messaged the same thing
before. So her learning him to be a responsive partner and
to enjoy reciprocation and conversation development, may
be a genuinely helpful learning, until his ability to imagine

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himself a kind of device which powers down people's
ability to dictate terms to him, lapses, and he becomes a kid
who has lost his varnished advantage--his youthful alpha
perfect form and sexual potency--to a crackening, wise
older woman, who has hard-earned won the argument over
who should be allowed to break in every part of innocent,
ignorant him. She's a superior Barbara, that is, in that
there's no one out there to lesson him on how he might be
better off without her. Which may be why the film inflicts
her with a periodic tendency to shut down, broken over
rememberance of her lost family, so to become sort of a
null object he can actually act over from time to time.
If this film was true life, Jon would forgo her the first
moment possible--making his switching off at some
moment where she had curled into herself once again in
pain. He'd bookend her experience with her with it lending
him the authority to talk back to Barbara and acknowledge
the rightness of his feeling neglected by her (guys are going
to like this moment in the film), and perhaps with his
gaming how he schedules and goes about his life a bit--a bit
of social mixing it up with basketball might be better than
just the familiar routine of weights--but otherwise return to
what he had, with maybe also a bit more sass at the church,
and so not just with his dad. He'd forgo the commanding
10s this time, spot out the less-fielty-owed 8s and 9s, and
every week, catch one. He'd take them to bed, which
though it punished him with missionary sex which hardly
flatters the form of his mate, reducing them to compressed,
blockened slabs of somnambulist flesh, though it means
felatio which terminates just when its getting good, or

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which from the start--when he's eating her out--is pretty
rank and foul, is still something which might lend life into
his follow-up routine of amended sex through porn. He's a
hunter who can claim more from his follow-up routine of
administrating, handling, and plying apart his prize stalked
prey, than can the big game hunter readying things with a
blooded carcase for a later feast.
In short, a device clearly used to make guys who watch
porn not feel like they're losers--he's a guy who's got an
active sex life, and with total scores--probably has most of
them thinking that though they like the involvement of the
Obi Wan Kenobi female friend, they'd just-fine take what
Jon has from the start. And you can understand why
apparently some porn companies cooperated with the film.
Here presented is a fully honest account of why guys go to
porn, and apparently it's as innocent-dewed as Playboy
magazine in the 1950s. Guys go to it for better tits, better
ass, and a feeling of empowerment and satisfaction they
don't always so much feel in sex, which can turn servile.
Not ideal, maybe, but understandable, and hardly character
defining--a bit hen-afflicted man still turning his head at the
gorgeous young blonde strayed into his path ...
quintessential manhood. But go to a porn site, and see if
this is what you see. Do you perhaps instead see something
a little bit more disturbing than just chasing down the
perfect ass? Or even, something more salutary than just
cold sex, stripped of any genuine sensuality that might have
been more evident in porn during the free-love 1970s?
Maybe what you get is a lot that is damning men, making
them beyond recoverable--a heightened longing for

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revenge, not compensation. Rape fantasies. And maybe also
a bit that is genuinely buttressing them, giving them some
company that is actually teaching them a thing or two about
mutuality, but delimited by being entirely under their
control.
Prisoners
The movie begins with Hugh Jackman's character, Keller
Dover, attending his son's successful kill of a deer. Just into
the film, we're not quite sure what to prioritize, how much
yet to ascribe any particular that strays into our sight, so we
give the fact that the movie shows hunting to be about
springing on an animal whose attention is preoccupied
elsewhere, full due. Hunting means killing, and possibly in
the process, terribly wounding an animal whose flank is to
you. When Keller salutes his son for the effort, we're
certainly willing to submerge this fact so it doesn't too
much incriminate a father whose love for his son is real, but
it's certainly not completely out of mind when Keller's best
friend's oldest daughter asks his son if he is comfortable
stalking deer. The son replies not with his experience but
with what his father would say in retort: hunting is a way to
keep nature in balance ... and besides, how soon are you
about to turn away from innocent-cow-produced burgers?
So, when we eventually find out that the person intent on
hunting down children describes her efforts about as coldly,
if for an inverse purpose--for her it's about disrupting God's
plans, not tending them: nothing tees people off into
madness than the disappearance of children--are we in
mind to ascribe equivalence, even slightly? No, the movie

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isn't that sophisticated. They're not both addled on over
onto the same suspect line, which might include everyone
sufficiently besotted they're non-blanched at making insipid
imprints on beautiful flesh, including the numeroustattooed, somewhat sullen and snide detective, Loki (Jake
Gyllenhaal), but rather one doggedly good against one
entirely evil. But likely unconscious to us, we've still in
some way aligned them together: you've got to be able to
turn hard on other's suffering if you mean to pursue larger
goals. He ends up torturing a young man for days and days
to get information he just knows he possesses, and it's the
most abominable path in that it leads him to a point where
no one--not even you, the movie-goer--has any sure faith in
him anymore. He's all alone in a void where going on looks
to be about either obliterating all awareness that he might
actually have made an awry choice which resulted in his
doing something damnable, useful only in satisfying a
desire to feel efficacious and rage against a world with no
choice but to suffer his bruising imprint; or maybe just, still
holding onto his awareness that his victim had given him
sure signs--the kinds of signs an experienced hunter
recognizes instinctively in the gives of prey--that to get to
the kids their location has to be broken out of him. What
could have doomed him, what was dooming him, instead
hefted him off into herodom ... he was right, and gets to the
true child abductor--the aunt--first. Jail for his actions
becomes, what, scratching him with a few negligible
abrasions as he slowly stretches up into a human giant? Yes
indeed; only that.
Taking her down fails, looking to be owing to his not being

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so good going after another hunter--he'd become excellent
at some point, but remains at this point nonetheless a
newbie at this. He prides himself in once again getting into
her house, seemingly through another successful
deception--he'd done a number on the detective previously,
and seemingly also before the aunt, so surely he's already
got good game with this skill, right?--not realizing this
means getting him off the street and turning his vulnerable
flank to actually pistol-armed her. And for a human being,
who, like a deer, can be taken down by even one shot, this
means the end of his efforts. But it still seems like an
instance of first through the wall always gets hurt: with the
follow-up pursuit by the detective, the aunt relents almost
immediately, as if the game has got now to be up entire,
hoping only for one last successful slay of a child, one last
nasty rippling through of the human community to
unsteady God, before becoming rendered a shot-through
crumpled form requiring burial or cremation.
The movie gives a great deal of give on who it's okay to
be--for instance, the priest we first encounter as a drunken
mess, had once taken upon himself to do in someone who
had slain numerous children and would have slain more if
he hadn't stepped in, even if this still made him someone
who stores a bound corpse in his basement. But it's not so
pleasant to true teddy-bear types. The father of the other
abducted child, Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard), is a
professional, wears fine sweaters, endeavours to play the
trumpet, makes his basement into a friendly entertainment
space, and he, unlike Keller, can't bear to keep what Keller
is up to to himself. So while Keller, to keep the possibility

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of retrieving his child's location alive, lets himself be
thought of as someone who deals with a crisis selfishly by
escaping to a retreat and into alcohol, Franklin coughs it up
pretty much immediately to his wife Nancy (Viola Davis).
Keller finds this out by Nancy's banging on his door to
accost him, with her husband behind her, sundered and
shamed for betraying his friend's trust and relenting to his
wife to handle things subsequently. The film figuratively
castrates him once again, when his wife actually ends up
agreeing with Keller, telling her husband to adopt Keller's
ability to think on their children rather than take the "easy"
way out, and absolve the long-tortured, mentally-disabled
man any subsequent abuse.
It's not so easy on tortured, abducted kids, either. It's
probably not so unpleasant to those like the Birch's girl,
who succeeds in an escape not too far long into her capture,
but those kept long enough in terrible conditions that
they're going to show signs of crippling owing to it, sure
aren't treated that well. Think Paul Dano's character Alex
Jones, a victim of child-abduction, who we are repeatedly
told hasn't any sadistic intentions towards children himself
and is possessed of a ten-year-old's mental state and
intelligence, and who is beat to near the point of death and
then boxed in and subjected alternatively to blasts of
intense heat and intense cold. Think David Dastmalchian's
character Bob Taylor, who we learn too was an abducted
child subjected to terrific abuse, and who too now though a
bag of quirks remains nevertheless essentially harmless,
and is beaten to a pulp by the detective before he does a
quick steal of a gun and blows his own head off. The film

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does agonies of horror to these two, and then when it gets
to the child-afflicter herself, it lets her off with but one easy
bullet ... is it too much to say it was done out of respect?
Abused children are urinals you can piss in yet again, just
let it gush and gush all over them, while the abductor is a
just-come-upon statue you're surely baiting the gods by
taking down in any drawn out way.
P.S. People have accused Chris Nolan's Dark Knight series
as being misanthropic, and you'd have to wonder then what
adjective they'd need to invent to adequately damn this
film. Dastmalchian was a tormented, insane man in that
film too we remember, and Batman scolded the DA intent
on tormenting information out of him that he was raging on
someone mentally sick--a schizophrenic--and that he wasn't
going to get anywhere with this. Batman also said the thing
that took him out of his despair of finding himself
parentless, alone, and in a hell of self-accusation that was
sure to render him insane, was a surprise moment
of kindness--Inspector Gordon's putting his coat around
him and talking to him in nurturance and sympathy. Dark
Knight's philosophy applied to this film would have had the
torture go nowhere, and for the breakthrough to have come
from Nancy's effort to break with the program and show
some trust in Alex, who'd known so little of it in life. I like
this film, but you can bet I would have preferred to have
seen this. It's the truth--kindness is the way to go, if we're
really interested in making a better world rather than
accosting ourselves for once having put purposeful posts up
in that direction. And boy oh boy does the world need this
reminder.

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The Family
The Family
When the mob family descends on their new locale, a
quaint village in northern France, their identity is of
American. The mobster's wife, Michelle Pfeiffer's character
Maggie, enters into a local grocery and asks for peanut
butter, descending upon her a crowd of locals dismaying
American obesity. Certainly too, when the teen boy and girl
in the family join the local school, they're the improvising,
brass-balled Americans, whomever sets out to take
advantage of them regrets their imposition near
immediately. Later, however, it would seem that what they
are mostly is Italian--Maggie is fierce in pitting her olive
oil diet against the French obsession with cream, as if
bulwarked by centuries of Italian lives and culture. They
churn out burgers and Cokes for the locals, only to satisfy
expectations--Americanism has become a red cape they
float before onrushing french bulls they're cannily flanking
and spotting out. I'm not quite sure how much fun it is to
watch a pleb mob family reduce the French into imbeciles,
but I suppose if you understand that what they're doing is
impressing themselves upon new cushions so they are
succumbed of some of their store presence to take on more
of "you," I suppose you can at least get at the sanity of what
they're wanting to do.
But what becomes interesting is how in their individual
pursuits they find themselves extraneous to one another.

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The father goes from being a retired patrician mobster to
become an excited cell terrorist, activated in his fervour to
take down a corporation. The mother goes from sallying
forth destruction to the arrogant French in piquant moments
to finding her own insides blasted out, with a priest taking
what she had revealed to him as ingredients to mix back a
mirror as to how long a road of evil she's traveled. The
daughter goes from teaching awkward, totally overmatched
teenagers a lesson they'll never forget to taking on a
polished young instructor, who'll show her that spunk and
sass can be quickly subsumed if any inflection at all is
given the life someone poised and learned is due to lead.
The boy manipulates a whole school to his advantage, but
becoming Zuckerberg to the school spanks him as to how
top dog substitutes paltry happiness if it's not something he
can adequately return home and show family. They've gone
so far out in their own individual sports that gangsters
arriving to kill them really serve as a welcome call back
home. The French, who had temporarily been given some
advantage, are once again relinquished all, as the gangsters
dump however many they need into corpse status to show
the power of this call; tailing along with it, a whole family
back tightly together again.
The episode packages up, and the family is off to fuss up
some other European station for awhile. We take stock, and
see them as a blotch of virus who are eating up small moth
holes into a fine swatch of something precious we weren't
really allowed to see, for it making their presence there
beyond endurable. Exempting the boy--he is the lone one of
the family who can strategize, delay, his revenge--they've

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each got major problems restraining themselves, which
their CIA overlookers greatly assist them with. Fine. But if
they needed a soothing, antique village with a lot of prop
people to serve as a calming backdrop for this containment
"therapy," it's too bad it couldn't be done entirely in
simulation.
Insidious 2
I leave it to Insidious 2 to faithfully expound upon the most
significant fact about evil--those doing it aren't themselves,
but rather are possessed by alters driving them to take
sadistic pleasure in murdering innocents. It's quite
something, after seeing the damage the adult Parker Crane
has done to women he's culled from local denizens--rotted
bodies aligned in church rows--to finally be introduced to
him as a young boy, and for him to be attributed about the
same amount of empathy as the good boy in the film, Josh
Lambert. They spy him in long braids and a girl's dress,
combing his doll's hair. When he turns around, he actually
warns them to get out of the room--he actually tries to help
them! Later we see his mother descend upon him and make
him feel as if his entire known universe will be squashed
out if he doesn't obey her in all respects, and cast himself in
the role of female full-time so to be fully owned by her and
bear no resemblance to a husband she wants cast out of
memory altogether. Later he would own his mother's look-eyes of convinced sadism, a wide smile supped on other
people's powerlessness and pain--and it's clear he's in no
way his own self anymore: his mother alter has simply
taken him over.

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There is nothing scarier for human beings than the look of
our mothers when they themselves are possessed. I've seen
it--at an age where I was old enough to have the resources
not to feel the normally life-saving need to bury my
awareness of it. She wandered into my room while I was
still awake, with the complete scary visage of someone
under possession, driven to seek out innocents to harm. But
while it was true that I was in her home at the time owing
to vulnerability, I wasn't so vulnerable not to take some
delight in this kind of "photo capture" of the source of the
fear that had dissuaded me away from whatever full kind of
self-realization I might have been capable of--"you, kid, are
owned by me; I will flush into you my emotions, and they
will have their full play with you." Here was the source of
the absolutely terrifying "eye ball" nightmare I used to have
all the time as the kid, where my dreams would be going
casually along their route, and then all of a sudden a
boulder-sized eyeball would appear and advance upon me.
Here is the source of that maybe still subliminally felt
sense, that if I'm out enjoying life, adorning myself with
possessions and accomplishments beyond what my mother
would have thought me allotted--something uncomfortable
to her--that all of a sudden out of the blue I might casually
open up a door and see a terror of teeth about to have it out
with me.
Actually, this might be an exaggeration ... it is possible that
now I'm completely demon free. What I do with my
independence might take my mother--in all respects-further and further away from me (which, trust me, is pretty

495

damn scary as well; and is surely the source of my
conjuring her up in my daydreams and my writing), but it
may be I can't see any Joker face, twisted to take delight in
pain, and not instantly see the helpless "Parker Crane" that
was going to have no choice but to let this demon into
him/herself, and own them whole in response to triggers of
self-fulfillment and helplessness.

The Butler
The Butler
The current generation of liberals have clearly reached
expiry date when they find themselves—without knowing
it, of course—actually favoring Uncle Toms, thereby
becoming exactly those whom they in their better days
would have been at lead in toppling. The current black
situation is that the huge bulk of them are in the
dispossessed 99%, with the vast majority, in the worst
ghettos of this unlucky group. And liberals look at this
group, and see a hopeless situation. They see people who
have simply transmogrified, who, having their claim on
bourgeois respectability taken from them, have over the
last 30 years of taking sustenance from the sort of foul
stuff you count as familiar when you're trying to
makeshift an accommodating life for yourself in hell—
with cock-fight UFC becoming your sport,
sadomasochistic Fifty Shades your fiction, heavy whiskey
drinking your milk, and hard-core porn and onlinebetting not even a poke that something has gone wrong—
and now stand before them as a people anthropologically
different, fixed forever in their degraded status, like brief

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fresh flesh to stagnant rotten meat. At the same time
liberals have stopped believing past-times shared by all
are really America's greatest cultural offering, and
accoutered themselves in whatever way to make them
feel that as if by DNA, every sprout of their lived lives
must have behind it years of private-school teaching. The
idea that you should want the 99% to be given a loud
voice, and dominate American culture, is about as absurd
as saying you want to bring down the walls staunching
back a zombie hoard. You might assist them a little, agree
to minimum wage increases and health care benefits, but
you'll turn armaments against whomever would say it is
insufficient to let them rest with administrations that still
keep them compartmentalized and accountable.
It's not so much right to say that they remember your
origins, either, who you were before. Rather, it's a bit as if
for an agreed upon extended period of years, they stayed
eyes-fixed to their New York Times, and looked up so
they could see everything again with fresh eyes; and so so
much of the democratic world that was built upon the
belief that people are equal, and once had ample evidence
for this belief, can look now, with this spread of loonies
partaking so much of the population, simply absurd to
them. They go to a liberal web site, and look down from
the article to the comment section, and cannot believe
that people had once thought it worth so much effort to
place such a close bridge between writer and audience.
They look at the grand numbers of people who can but
don't vote, and actually hope they rest content in their
apathy: if they all went out to the ballot box, they'd force
the unpleasant acknowledgement that one person-one
vote, is a fantastical, silly, dangerous proposition, when

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so many are only one-fifth as human as they themselves
are. And they realize that their task is to argue for the
reality of the number of unhumans loud enough, that the
moral imperative becomes to take down the morays that
have made it seem as if larger inclusion is a humane and
necessary thing. So courageously they in unison pit their
courageous resources, and the crowd of unknowns that
hippies once thought you should know, for believing you
could be spiritually pure regardless of how anonymous
your situation or what-not anonymous no-place you're
from, become trolls, unknowns, but dank killers, who
from under bridges or out of dark corridors can be relied
upon to stank up any good thing the civilized might be
forging. And so eventually, pounding this lesson home—
trolls! trolls! trolls!, progress begins to be made, and sites
that were once open-access begin to require commenters
to provide their full name with their posts, a seemingly
small request, but really a final nail, considering that
coinciding with this request is a society that has made
newscast-main-story the fact that individuals caught
saying the wrong thing can get 35 years, or a visit from
the unimpressed, who've located your address, and who'll
show how you can be turfed out of your job or kicked to
shit with bats, in a startled, shocked, blink of an eye. And
as to the public vote, you can't let it come to your actually
denying people it: there's no way this wouldn't cause
dissonance that would destroy even you. So what you do
is make them feel so apart from a world that would give a
shit about them, that in frustration they come to believe
their only hope is through violence. And then you make
violence, a decision to desist from the public
conversation and just stage revolt, something that is
goodness gone foul—something wildly excessive

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and spoiled, for it being completely unnecessary—and
something you can destroy like something tolerated gone
arrogant, like a weed proclaiming itself a latinized plant,
in a truly terrific garden that shudders the thought. For
which all, you'll need directors, traitors to the underclass
that take your view and makes it incontestable. You'll
need Uncle Toms ... and so enter the butcher, or sorry,
Lee Daniels's foul weapon, The Butler, so all that would
disquiet the over-class can begin to rest the fuck in peace.
The Butler takes you through black history in America,
from cotton-fields to today, and everything Daniels, a
black man, shows you concerning black Americans is
either exemplary or understandable ... exempting the
Black Panther movement. At a time in history when black
Americans were buoyed by the huge love and
peacefulness of Martin Luther King, and who would
eventually find others his equal to relate to and support—
first Nelson Mandela, then (ostensibly) Obama—here,
according to the film, is where even a very good and
righteous population can go foul if it shorns patience for
hate. The Black Panthers, we learn, though ostensibly
about community service, were really just interested in
taking out two of you for every one of them. Their way, is
blood on the streets, payback, with anything good that
could possibly come from this, really beside the point
(the only point they're concerned with, is your head, on
the end of a pike). And it is okay, regardless of your color,
to hate them.
How do we know this? Because the person who
exemplifies membership to the Panther movement that is
true to it, rather than based on what it purportedly stands

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for, is the sole black villain in this film. She is the butler's
eldest son's girlfriend, Carol Hammie, who looks down
on her boyfriend's family, at just that point in the film
when the butler's wife has ceased drinking and cheating
on him for her realizing she just can't any longer do this
to such a good man. The wife, Oprah Winfrey's Gloria
Gaines, identifies Carol as low-life trash; and the
occasion of correct naming, sparks momentum in the
film to show up how foul she really is, demarcating how
even her five-year-long love for her boyfriend was false.
She's model gorgeous—the most beautiful woman in the
film, by far—and the Black Panthers are fierce in their
black attire, but they're lost souls tempting blacks to
where chaos—no true love; all hate—reigns.
So you take a film like this where done by a black person,
the one thing that a liberal crowd allowed itself to
question regarding black empowerment is given huge
leverage. When a dispossessed people begin to dress in
spooky garb—in this film, Carol's aggressive afro doesn't
really jive with her boyfriend's black leather—he still
looks an affable Theo Huxtable—and is effectively in
affronting Joker garb—and beget violence, then,
effectively, the KKK has got company: one ranges more
over Southern rural, and the other NorthEast urban, but
it's all just more goons on the landscape. Once you've
chosen this path, your life circumstances no longer
applies, for no amount of previous suffered hate prevents
you of your God-given ability to choose the path of love.
And so as liberals free their homes of the presence of the
dispossessed, by raising rents, and thereby effectively
shipping them off to the outskirt ghettos; and in a sense
free them from their presence on the way to work, with

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tax policies that attend to "your" drive but pay less and
less attention to their public transport; and keep them
seeming contained, at least, as they explore their
preferred websites, by construing comment sections so
they seem fetid marshes you screen out as you fix on your
own haute-bourgeois/aristocratic compartments, at first
the dispossessed do nothing as you enjoy how "scum"
miraculously seems less present in your everyday life, but
later manifest, in a terrible way—with a burnt-down
luxury apartment building that had taken the place of
something low-rent, scrawled with anarchist hate; with
minimum-wage food chains looted across the country—
after strikes had gone nowhere—with stolen burgers from
them shoved up the arses of uptown gourmets; with
private roads laced with fowl killed in oil spills, that leave
morning drivers retching—these dispossessed are going
to be received with nothing but a merciless hard
crackdown—regardless of huge a high percentage of
them are black, mentally-ill, and starving. If they had
waited, their sufferings would eventually have been
noticed—did you not see how the butler eventually had
the support of a president to get his raise-hike?—but
impertinently, impatiently, greedily, and
unnecessarily, they chose the path of hate, and have
become vermin.
Crackdown is to be lead by the likes of Daniels as well.
The Butler shows he's got all the right attributes. You
don't want them too smart and sophisticated, and he's
not. You don't want him thinking an aristocrat, an officer,
is anything he can aspire to, but rather contented to
himself as a gruff staff-sergeant, and he is. And you want
him beguiled to "betters," as if they are gods, harsh as

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hell on any of the underclass who'd try and rival them,
and he—to near a point that should make him look a bit
ridiculously stupid to his betters—is. If you're showing
cotton-field masters, it's okay to show them as brutal
sadists, but if you can't show scenes of them and their
black servants/slaves that doesn't spark something
outside folk portrayal—all evil, and all innocence—
narrative needs are determining what you are seeing in
life. If you're showing students being prepped to suffer
abuse by forcing other students to play the role of
accosters, at a historical time when psychology was
becoming famous for its prisoner/guard experiments,
where students couldn't help but play their delegated
roles for real, and for the Maslow experiments, where
people told to shock a victim could find themselves
apparently shocking them from pain into
unconsciousness, and you do it just straight, then you're
not post but pre-Kubrick, and are actually dialing back
what we know of people and the world. If you show
someone in close proximity to presidents, yet nothing
shown looks different from what an ignorant person from
afar would project as how these scenes would play, you're
pretty much taking the accomplishment of Aaron
Sorkin's The West Wing back, and substituting
something more dutiful to authority; more respectful of
mystique and distance. And if you show every worn
president but not the one who currently resides, you
make it seem as if they were all leading up to the one so
pure and beyond he's most accurately represented as a
light that's effused itself over the social landscape,
concentrated heavy beyond the door you're about to
enter, and about to take you some place as rapturous as
heaven. And if you show Jackie O as a natural aristocrat,

502

a true princess, and her rival beauty—but of the
dispossessed—as a snake villain, you're the Uncle Tom
who's undertaken the tradition of G.W. Griffith. So
fabulously unaware are you, that the lesson you think you
know by heart, is one you impertinently cast aside to put
a stake though the snake: "guess who's coming to
dinner," isn't supposed to favor the traditional-minded
family who's shocked by the strange black thing planted
down at the dinner table before them, but shown up by
him or her.
And when we've lost that lesson, we no longer believe in
democracy, but shown that though it might have taken
three centuries to prove it, the whigs were wrong: gates
need to be put in place to keep these tempering hordes
from bucking up into a revolution.
Posted by Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston at 11:10 AM No
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Labels: lee daniels, the butler

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kick-Ass 2
Kick-Ass 2

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When Roger Ebert reviewed the original Kick-Ass, he
wasn't primarily taken aback by any one single incident—
Hit Girl's being shot, with the audience having to take a
moment to remind themselves about her bullet-proof
vest, for instance—but by the fact that people behind the
movie were so comfortable exploring a whole terrain of
something which had pretty much taken him off stride
upon first occurrence. He couldn't believe that a movie
primarily involving kids could be so comfortable with
people dying, being butchered, all over the place, coldly,
bloodily, humiliatingly, with this not counting it as
beyond fun and games. "This isn't comic violence," he
writes, "These men, and many others in the film, really
are stone-cold dead. And the 11-year-old apparently
experiences no emotions about this. Many children
would be, I dunno, affected somehow, don't you think,
after killing eight or 12 men who were trying to kill her?"
Ebert worried about what would happen to the 6-yearolds who wanted to see the film, and, despite his
proclaiming himself not so worried about them,
evidently also about the sheer fact of the older ones
who'd already been ruined to become of the
internet. Specifically he writes, "The movie's rated R,
which means in this case that it's doubly attractive to
anyone under 17. I'm not too worried about 16-year-olds
here. I'm thinking of 6-year-olds. There are characters
here with walls covered in carefully mounted firearms,
ranging from handguns through automatic weapons to
bazookas. At the end, when the villain deliciously
anticipates blowing a bullet hole in the child's head, he is
prevented only because her friend, in the nick of time,
shoots him with bazooka shell at 10-foot range and blows
him through a skyscraper window and across several city

504

blocks of sky in a projectile of blood, flame and smoke. As
I often read on the Internet: Hahahahaha.”
Ebert pretty much assumes that if you liked Kick-Ass,
you've got to be pretty much lost to the human. Zombies
might have great sport figuring out what to do with the
various body parts that remained after they've gorged
themselves full, perhaps bowling human heads through
assembled foot-and-ankle "pins," or making rib-cages
and thigh bones into cunning hefty decorative wear, but
anyone still human isn't going to be in mind to demarcate
their creativity here, but just drain it of distinction so that
the sheer fact of its blunt awfulness, not its
variegatedness, holds your attention. If in real life a mob
is ripping apart its victim, do you describe particulars
involved so the act looks to possess a distinguishable
aesthetic, a uniqueness—worth? Would irony save it
from now possessing validity? Or do you eclipse it, deny
it, and just hold it as not worth describing? Ebert does, or
shows, both—we already have the description, and he
ends his piece with, "then the movie moved into dark,
dark territory, and I grew sad." But since his description
is compelling enough to have you think that Ebert was
aware that his foremost problem is not with the film but
with a world that gets sufficient kicks from energies he
finds repellent that it gives latitude to art that partake of
them, he mostly sounds as if with this essay he knows
he's successfully enunciated his own demise. The
foremost thing he did by setting out as a critic to analyze
the film, was welcome himself innocently but
conclusively to how little this changed world is going to
factor him in. It's not true that this was the last essay of
Ebert's I ever read, but it's the last one of significance he

505

ever did: it's tough to admire the work of someone who's
crawled into his own dark corner, out of realizing that as
considerable as he is, he hasn't the momentum to take on
a world when it isn't dialing down its emerging
preferences.
I liked Kick-Ass, just like I also liked (or rather, loved)
Refn's Drive—a movie Richard Brody accused as being
inhuman, of being in love with the idea of "the poker face
as the key to success"—and as well Game of Thrones, a
show Maris Kreizman argues with genuine case is for
"Star Wars fans who thought Princess Leia should have
been raped." For both bad and good reasons. The bad, or
at least, the regrettable reason, is because I'm not so
different from those 1930s artists who were daunted by
their predecessors—those 1920s greats who hung out at
the Parisian cafes, like Fitzgerald, Joyce, Hemingway,
and the rest of those populating Midnight to Paris—but
grew wings when a Depression climate frowned on those
who arrogantly showed how ripe human life can be. You
watch Kick-Ass or Drive, and you know that completely
non-misanthropic critics like Ebert and Brody—both the
highest class of loving people—are going to find
reprehensible anyone who'd take much pleasure from
them (Brody would give you the okay, only if you liked
Brooks' gangster, and not, that is, for Ryan Gosling, the
film's style, and the 95 percent of the rest of the film).
Being someone who is bit daunted by how personality
rich these two men are, who is fascinated at what kind of
early experience enabled them to bring so much presence
to the world (it's more than their being surely firstborns), and whose inclination is to quieten myself to take
in more and more from them and maybe locate the

506

maybe-still-tapable source, I like films which break this
spell, which give you a sense that somehow the world has
incrementally changed, accrued, layered, so that things
that wouldn't have had much chance to distract the
attention of men like these, can find themselves irritating
them for their requiting them to swat at them or tear
through them before lunging awesomely at what they're
actually in mind to take on. It's easy to imagine them
eventually willy-nilly pinned or hopelessly entangled as
these accumulations bear down—like the great uber-man
in Prometheus stunningly blocked and enveloped by theeven-greater, great python-muscled tentacle horror that
barged in his path—if they don't find some place of
refuge, and you can kind of factor them out and see the
world—however Depression grey and stilled—as your
own grounds now to range over.
Also bad, is the fact that I like the fact that films which I
know to be, maybe not precisely misanthropic, but
endorsing orientations towards the world which are
reroutes away from approaches which'd have one face
one's personal scourges and actually, like, grow, appeal to
me for the fact that they favor reroutes I know I also need
to have championed to appear ideal. They convince me
that I don't stand out too much as a self-realized, selfsatisfied douche, a bitchy demon presiding over our age
would feel the need to sweep down upon and teach a
swift scolding lesson to. She could read deep into my
thoughts, recognize that I know everything that is going
on in an age which inverts what is good—self-realization
—for the bad—self-sacrifice/diminution—know that I
ultimately want Her gone for inhibiting something as
precious as a human life, and at such an awesome scale,

507

but still pat me on the head as no threat—even give me a
lift, if I needed one, and smile genuinely to me—because
She knows I'm still broken sufficiently that I'll need her
"fix" like all the rest of them. This means that when
someone like Brody chastises a film like Skyfall for
something that may well be regrettable, and that I should
want to be the kind person who like him had instantly
noticed, I'm actually glad that at the moment it hadn't
occurred to me.
Specifically, when he writes,
The colossal chase scene through Istanbul at the beginning of 
Skyfall recalls the escape through Shanghai, early in Indiana 
Jones and the Temple of Doom, with pushcarts overturned, 
merchandise scattered, terrified bystanders diving for safety. 
Spielberg offensively turned ordinary people going about their 
business into just so much confetti for his spectacle—exactly 
the sort of cavalier colonial­era bravado that might have 
repelled a filmmaker who started his career in the late sixties. 
Plus ça change: Skyfall, too, scatters Istanbul’s residents and 
their goods like bowling pins. From the start, Sam Mendes, the
director of the latest installment of 007, proves faithful to 
tradition, yet not always the best of that tradition.
I realized him to be like the sober peasants in Monty
Python's Holy Grail, who made clear King Arthur's
requisiting them not just for directions but for
confirmation of his own grandiose status, or like the
whole feel of the Lancelot bit in the film, where Lancelot's
a crazed loon with a sword, hacking away at an innocent
assembly of peacefully gathered people, for a point he'd
actually end up staunching himself in retreat from. But

508

the point is that I evidently enough relate to the fantasy
of being someone inflated that when you see the like in a
film, you're too much enjoying and partaking in his
paving through swaths of less-mattering people to be
instantly critical or self-reflective of what he'd just done
to the actually probably quite fulsome people around
him.
Same thing applies, especially, with Brody's superb
criticism of Drive, where he argued that "Refn doesn’t
seem interested in pain but in its infliction—specifically,
how blank-faced, soft-spoken people manage to commit
mayhem and, at the moment of violent outburst, stay
fixed on their plan and maintain a fearsome calm in the
face of disgusting gore." Yes, absolutely true: Refn clearly
enjoys that Ryan Gosling's ostensibly accommodating,
becalming, boyish manner, can be exploded so
conclusively that anyone who might privilege their own
interests through it find themselves unable to handle
whom he has revealed to them as a good part of his core,
and he's got them now in a position where they'll never
be quite sure about him; always a bit fretful and fearful,
prepared to disengage and let "you" be free, so you can
decompress and relax in your own space, the moment
you show any hint of being tweaked from normal. He
enjoys creating protagonists who experience other
people's startled pulling back, like as if it's at this
point where you can begin to form a friendship with
them, if it would still take, and they remain interested,
because you now know them well enough from what they
have revealed to you—you've had that advantage—before
you revealed the dragon-self they've actually also to
tangle with (something akin to Black Widow's technique

509

in the Avengers). And I know what that is about. One of
my favorite characters from fiction was once Severian,
from Gene Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer, and this was
him to a T. Just as soon as you think you've got him
pegged, and are moving on with your further plans, he
shows what he's been hiding, and does the like of
surprising you by punching your nose-bone into your
brain. And though I'm aware enough of it's immaturity,
or rather, its origins as a defense mechanism against
abuse, like the "ignoring of emotions of others and the
crawling inside boxes and clinging to hard surfaces and
mechanical devices in place of relating to caretakers"
(deMause, "Why males are more violent") that autists do,
I can't quite stand outside a film like Drive and find it
hard to slip Gosling's character on. Rather, it is a bit
more the character Brody actually likes in this film,
Albert Brooks' gangster, whom I am prone to engage with
rather secondarily.
Brody makes the gangster out to be a horror, "[some]one
whose professional identity emerges, tantalizingly, only
by degrees," but he isn't, like Gosling, the guy who
disengages and puts the cold-face on, but rather the
saddened older guy who realizes there's really no other
option for him, and so does what he has to, still himself
the whole while. Indeed, when he forks and knives a guy
repeatedly to death, in a scene of massive violence and
emotional heat, it's as if it's more his way of displacing
his anger at his partner, who caused the problem but who
just can't any longer suffer himself the gore, like a
husband requited to killing the pest in the tub or who was
eating away at the yew bush, that he had no real truck
with—that is, more a manner of communicating, to

510

someone else, like a hard-slammed door, than it is your
spelling a hard lesson to whom you're directly accosting.
Gosling, on the other hand, when he kicks and crashes in
the skull of the assassin fallen before him, has entered
some other kind of state, separated from emotions, with
even his nearby beloved completely momentarily out of
the picture; and it is only afterwards that he can regroup
himself to something human like earnest communication
—even though you've surely fallen back by then, probably
concussed into pitiful trembles and nervous quivering,
and on your way to actually running away.
How the hell could I orient more towards Gosling than
Brooks in this film, you ask? Because Gosling in this
picture is more drawn from wounding than Brooks is,
and I relate, and whatever love I've gathered since then
hasn't quite become sufficient that I tilt more the other
way. This means that I expect a good portion of my life
has still been too much about a re-route than about a
healthy full-on engagement with a logical path, and this
means any god on the lookout for anyone treading
disallowed hallowed grounds and heaping and
integrating life riches found there-on into his life
drawers, might temporarily fix on me—or even quite a bit
—but ultimately desist, contented in my non-threat, like
the momentarily confused military drone in Oblivion.
This isn't exactly the right comparison, but I won't be due
to be a Bradley Manning; which is the way I need to have
it.
And now to the good. To the good reason that is, for
liking or loving films that enormously astute and
psychologically healthy critics like Ebert and Brody are

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bound to find offensive and largely unenjoyable. There
are some periods of human existence, where, as I
mentioned concerning the 1930s, all the great artists
sound about opposite the great artists who thrived just
before, when humanity was involved in some kind of true
renaissance period. These types—the actual lessers—do
in this instance have the advantage—the times are behind
them, for them, and it means for them they see, they
experience, a landscape of fresh things they might
explore, rather than blockages, howling spirits
instructing them on how despite their whatever genius,
they're not wanted, they don't matter, and they're no
good—now try to do your best work with this holy hell of
shit on your tail! So artists like Walker Evans, who
thought humanity so spoiled it needed to be taught the
Depression lesson, thrived, and artists like Fitzgerald,
whose blood was Jazz-Age, began to wilt. If you look at
30s films from the perspective Ebert and Brody show
towards Kick-Ass and Drive (or that Maris Kreizman
shows towards Game of Thrones), as you show up every
director for their potential amorality, their dispirit, their
exploitation, their dehumanization, you'll be showing up
a lot of what turned out to be the best films of the era.
42nd Street made people into "cogs in a wheel"
(Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark), it took away their
worth as individuals, favoring only what they counted for
as part of a collective—it kind of was a Nazi film: and
Busby Berkeley was great 30s innovation, for example.
And critics who could only point out the bad and not
recognize that increasingly it is from sour motives that
real art is increasingly to be found, have surely come to
their terminus: If it's not humans but oily kaiju masters
who are making the better 'bots, no matter how much

512

you hate them, you've got to be at least be able to
recognize this. Brody thought Drive a poor movie, with
only one thing going for it; Ebert showed no sense of how
exciting and out-of-the-blue Kick-Ass was; and years
later you go about and talk to bank-tellers, retail workers,
average joes—movie goers—you watch how they light up
when you talk about these movies: they were favorites of
the year, for many. So, concerning Ebert (I know, I know
—rest in peace) and Brody, and their likewise actually
wonderful ilk ... do we keep them? One begins to think—
no, lest we come across something awful they spelled out
about friggin' Game of Thrones, a world-wide beloved
phenomenon, for Heaven's sakes, and feel compelled to
seek them out and torture them out of their eyes and ears
to demonstrate our point that clearly for them, their
owning them no longer much matters.
I don't remember a single particular moment of Kick-Ass
I especially enjoyed; it was more how surprised I was,
how excited I was, to see a film-maker just truck on
through a landscape of horror like it was all just so what?
Yeah, a pre-teen is carving up bodies and having a heap
of fun—if this sounds like something you've got to work
yourself up for an entire movie to be ready for, you're
dark ages, because this director instructed us to the fact
that a whole bunch of talent is about to take it as nothing
really special. So, if in good times, when artists do this,
make inroads into taboo turf, this means they're
exploring hush-hush topics like racism or adult sexual
relations, then in the bad—times of purgatory—it's going
to mean going the distance with things likely to wound
more evolved predecessors. So if you're looking for
people making inroads, then these days when artists put

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butterfly-knives into the hands of children and explore
what they do with them, or not pull away when the
barbarian horde does its pillaging and raping, but instead
lets the cameras role on and even go for grim close-ups,
here perhaps most especially is where you're going to find
it. The reasons they're being explored are surely sordid,
but you couldn't work with this material before—for
reasons that were never truly convincing—so you should
be able to find some way, through watching their
explorations of it, how it might someday be made to work
in a humanist sense.
Kick-Ass 2 doesn't provide that same sense of a taboo
territory confidently being repossessed for public use,
though from what it does in the beginning, I was actually
a bit surprised at this. The movie begins with the villain
accidently-on-purpose killing his mother, and donning
her clothing for his next super-villain persona. Any time a
villain does this, adopts a mother-persona, it usually
means that this character is going to be given greater
latitudes than you'd normally expect. This will be true for
a 1960's film like Psycho, but especially true for any film
emerging out of a Depression period. Depressions are all
about a population punishing itself for having taken too
many cookies from the cookie-jar previously, and it's
pretty much lived as if there isn't anything you do that
your righteous mother with her tightly gripped rollingpin isn't felt to be watching over. The last thing you're in
the mind to do, that is, is say anything derisive about her,
no matter what the hell she might be up to, and you're
not about to take advantage of her likeness in film to
overtly show what you really think of her abuses. Instead,
you'll see the likeness, and immediately take advantage of

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this opportunity to manifest a repentant attitude, and not
say a word no matter how many how many
transgressions she pulls, no matter how many cookies
disallowed to you, she swallows down herself. Brody
could watch a film like Skyfall and point out M's rather
arrogant "clinging to her position," which actually made
things worse, but the rest of humanity, be sure, stayed
mum. Yes, the rest of humanity was also secretly joyous
when she gets disposed of at the finish, and that, thank
god, an affect-dialed-down male lead is left in charge of
operations, while Brody was free of any such malice, but
Brody was casually telling the emperor off to her face,
with his not even being aware he'd done anything
especially inopportune: which you just don’t do.
The boy arch-villain, Motherfucker, isn't actually the one
given any latitude; he aims at one point to rape someone,
Night Bitch, who'd been set up as if already abused—with
her perpetual nervous trepidation—and as akin to the girl
in a horror movie who's doomed to be slain for her being
sexually active, and thus part of the cohort that are
usually not in geek films spared humiliations but rather
made to feel susceptible to being bitch-slapped
consummated into fully ravaged victims. But his penis
fails him, and she ends up being denied her ill-fate by the
someone present who probably could have been shown
raping her, with a strap-on, and with the camera not
feeling the need to fret and pull-away, as if it's got sure
protection for its plainly powerful-indulging, evilpurposed scrutiny. Specifically, Mother Russia, the
gargantuan villain recruited into Motherfucker's service,
who's not like a brute in a Bond film in service to the
mastermind—clearly a number two—but rather more like

515

Kraken to Poseidon, a vastly dwarfing entity, who's show
is now its own once released into the film. It felt strange
that the movie handed the mother's mana all to her, after
it had just set up Motherfucker as the mother-visaged
psycho due surely for a number of personally inflicted
massacres—though I got the point behind this afterwards
—but regardless, Mother Russia is the bad bully mother
in this film, whom geeks fear so much you should explore
their decision to converge in basement-caves at the onset
of real world-beckoning adolescence, as owing to it. She's
Iron Man inflated to 400 percent power, she's the
adrenaline hit that Hit Girl takes later, to enable drama
to potentially take place that without her it wouldn't
dare.
The key scene in the film, the only one maybe worth rewatching on Youtube, is when the gang of villain elites
marches into the suburbs, each one an arrogant sure
shell of ego for essentially standing behind the power of
their way highest paid, Mother Russia. She's going to get
to do anything she wants, is what you feel, and it may be
the movie's encouraging you to feel this way, to be
reminded that moods can take over people where
trespasses can be effected, and the world thereafter just
can't placidly reset, is what it deserves credit for, and not
really with what it shows done within this protective
cloud of latitude. She launches a lawn-mower into the
face of a police-officer, and gives you the same sense that
the first Kick-Ass at times did with Hit Girl and Big
Daddy, that this just happened: in real life, someone like
her, a real human being, could have come out of the blue,
and done this. They're ridiculously costumed, and they’re
striding into the suburbs as if conquerors of Rome, but

516

it's not, it's not, simply funny. You can’t quite comic book
them, which makes the scene feel kind of awesome.
Mother Russia is ostensibly in the film to be an
appropriate foe for Hit Girl, but she's really in it for this.
This said, the fact that Mother Russia dwarfs everyone
else who is also part of the elite club of villains, helps
make another of the film's points. What Kick-Ass
suggested … has been already terminated: we're not in
the mood to inflate geeks so they might pass as true
super-heroes, but for splitting them off into the sliver few
—the 1%—who are undeniably awesome, and the rest,
who even with costumes on and trained, look like they're
just waiting for someone truly skilled to take them down
for their silly pretense, á la what you felt was partly at
work when Night Bitch gets paid that grim visit at the
hospital, and what was behind even mafia-trained
Colonel Stars and Stripes surprisingly quick exit from the
film. To me, it's amazing the movie would want to go this
way, but it did—and with confidence. It gets right that
what we wanted was for Hit Girl to receive what looked
like her due in the original Kick-Ass, to not properly
belong in any movie too much owned wholly by geeks.
When she rides off alone at the finish, she's the 18-yearold with the physical capacity now, to fit right into the
Avengers without blinking, with a big-league foe played
by a big-league actor, taunting her, rather than
essentially unadulterated nobodies and Hollywood
castaways. And if she surprised us in Avengers 2 by
serving as Black Widow's replacement, we'd calculate the
actresses' already-stardom, as well as what she's surely
due; consider her character's superlative killing out of
Kick-Ass; and actually probably let her do the

517

unthinkable and be the only one you're ever likely to see
in a Depression period, rise from the slums and get to
keep their stay.
Be warned, however, that though it looks like she's off to
the big time, it's not quite true to say she's leaving
everyone else behind. All the other heroes drop their
super-hero garb and personas, but they don't sulk back
into the individually bullied. Rather, they take the other
empowered end of the super-hero stick that the last
Depression period—the one that gave birth to
superheroes in the first place—enabled. Specifically, like
the last Depression gave us Captain America and
Superman, it also ended up giving us the people as folk,
or in Germany, as volk. That is, the people ended up
being the depersonalized "cogs in a wheel" that Dickstein
rightly laments, but these same cogs ended up feeling
that as an anonymous legion they were empowered
together as something all-pure, all-powerful, and allvirtuous—look into the New Deal era, or, sorry, the Nazi
vision of "people's community," to get some sense of this.
Every one of the heroes are shown indistinguishably back
in their street clothes, amongst the mass, but one feels
that when "filth" passes by them, they're going to be at
liberties to disassemble them that you just couldn't
imagine. Here's where an awful lot of latitude is going to
fall over the next number of years, and I think we feel this
at the end of the film—how Dr. Gravity, surrendered of
his "Superman" and contented in his "Clark Kent, "
almost eclipses Hit Girl's racing off to her own individual
future in Manhattan, when he smiles to participate in a
righteous lynching. If his skills were a bit better, he'd fit
in with Coulson's crew of black-garbed, non-glam agents,

518

which as we know, no one's passing over for its
possessing serious, serious legs.
Posted by Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston at 4:05 PM No
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Labels: 42nd st., Dancing in the Dark, Game of Thrones, Gene Wolfe,
Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2, Monty Python, morris dickstein, Oblivion,
Prometheus, Richard Brody, roger ebert, Shadow of the Torturer,
Skyfall, the Avengers

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blue Jasmine
Blue Jasmine
One thing I was not really fair to, to my experience of
Elysium, is how impressed I was by how it accurately
conveyed, that if you're not amongst those essentially
expected to live as if there is no constraint upon them—
all smiles, celebrations, new restaurants, and "isn't life
the greatest!"—are outside the fortuned 1%, if you ever
dared offering up any sass, any reflection about how you
truly feel, you'll follow it with a thousand embarrassing
surrenders to whatever authorities might expect of you,
hoping that way to abet an executioner's suddenly raised
strike from tilting to ultimately fall down on you, and cast
you out from a life that still has the bearing of relevance,

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however spit upon and dim a one. There's a worse fate
than being a factory worker at a job-place that truly
believes not a one of them is particularly valuable in what
he does, each one to be replaced by another, if need be, as
can any newly purchased tool be schlepped in to replace a
lost one. If you somehow still seem part of a story, can
count yourself part of something, inclusion and purpose
can keep you sane. If you're outside of one, with the
world around you moving with purpose, there's no
socially acceptable narrative for you to count as your own
in which to unconsciously share and funnel your
perplexing life afflictions into, and they just keep popping
up, your insufficiently addressed life afflictions, all the
time, at scary conscious level, and are alone to you. And if
your being in sync to no one means the like of you
suddenly rehearsing something you said, or something
someone else said, out loud, you're going to tether out
pretty close to crazy-town for most people, which in
today's world will bring not empathy but shock "therapy,"
to kill that strange buzzing aberration dead that appeared
rather startlingly out there on the street to affront us.
The tragedy of Jasmine, is that she has acuity, some
potential to articulate precisely how things are, which
with the help of her summoned kindness can take other
people out of life patterns that are "solutions" which
enable them to live, but which themselves cry out to be
solved as well. Almost as soon as she lands on her sister's
doorstep, she knows her sister's life, her friends, her
community, fully rightly. She's stumbled into a morass,
but one that if she hangs on tight and bears it to the best
of her ability, will bear her enough so she can evolve the
extenuations required to finally once again get some full

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bracing against the world. She might try applying herself
to her surroundings, but since up close they're befudging
nullity, which brings to the person who is able to
summon considerable momentum to understanding
them the feeling of having summoned a great wave that'll
break its barrier with so little resistance it now requires
its own taxing down, the solution is better to drink when
she has to, Xanex herself when she has to, and just gain
the proclivity necessary to downscale the nerve-stressing
constant attenuations of a help center-type job, so she
can build up the protein-juice resources inside herself
from which promising extenuations might eventually
sprout.
She has terrible luck. The one thing that could still get
her once she has recuperated sufficiently from her past’s
great heave of traumas and developed the ability to work
as a receptionist--and so survive regardless if her sister
stopped hosting her--was if something arrived that
looked to instantly take her away from this life—make it
all seem like some extra-long but still now forever gone
nightmare, into which she was insanely transported but
now from which she has neatly danced her way out. And
with her meeting Peter Saarsgard's Dwight, she goes allin with this perfect way out. When she accidently meets
her sister's former husband on the street, we see what
this way out would have cost her. Caught out, she can in
instant defense show how alive she can be to other
people's motivations, and seem instantly adult. But since
this means having to reckon with things she did—
horrible things, like losing a deserving hard-working
man’s very realistic opportunity for a more enfranchised
life; like in a moment of venom alerting authorities about

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something she was always at some level aware of but
hadn’t blown the whistle on until it seemed perfect spite,
which killed her husband, spiraled her son into thinking
a forgotten cave is better than spending one moment
further outside, and undid her whole life—she can't help
but take the bait to be as if still ordained by a rigid law of
the universe to recover to be the Blue-Jasmine, perfectprincess again.
At the end she's on the street, dead eyes, and babbling.
Somewhere on the horizon a crew will soon appear to
diagnose her as needing to have her head shocked from
one planet to the next, leaving her in a permanent daze,
puddling drool down the front of her cream blouse and
Chanel jacket. But it's appropriate she just gives up. The
universe clearly has it in for her. She was right that her
sister would find for herself a better mate once she
judged herself worth a bit better, but her first magical try
with this ended so traumatizingly she ensconced herself
even harder with what—thank god!—was still available to
her. This meant Jasmine's presence would be thereafter a
reminder of a conscious decision on her part to force
herself to believe this was whom she was naturally right
for. This meant Jasmine—who reflects back at her now,
clearly justified mockery—would have to be out of her
life hard. Jasmine couldn't pick herself up from this, and
go back to the certainly plausible and now already partly
traveled path of becoming a decorator, because
sometimes you're just handed too many blows, and
you've got to just sit down, give up, and let yourself be
broken down by the universe to be reconstituted into
something which actually has purpose. (The only salve
temporarily available to you is that you might

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humorously blow at the ants taking bits of you away, like
Ron Perlman's puffing at the legion of flames already up
the wood-ladder and eating at him in Name of the Rose,
so a clearly humorless God has the humiliation of having
to chow down on some farce before he takes you.) We felt
for her when she—so long a time a natural denizen of the
most sophisticated rich—was brought down to being a
sales clerk serving her former friends, which is like
becoming a maid-servant after having once been a
duchess—is usually a kind of humiliation you're made to
suffer just before being executed, like being raped. Truly,
it’s amazing she managed. We certainly knew what she
meant when, after being accosted and groped by her
dentist boss, someone she had expended every frenzied
effort to communicate was not someone she wanted to
get intimate with, she just couldn't bear to take to court.
We knew how she felt when she requested more silence
and solitude in her sister's home, with her really, truly,
having expended every effort to make this a last-ditch
recourse—her ability to neuter down her own proclivity
to just arrogantly own whatever space around her, had
been commendable: her sister needed to speak up then,
and the guys needed to go to the bar instead—any
recourse away from that would have been universal
indignity.
The universe moves on, and eventually society recovers
its poise and actually cares about people again. This
becomes a time for true therapy, where if you babble to
yourself so you are aware of the specific instances which
afflict you, this is actually an asset therapists would use
to make sure they zero in on you more precisely—it’s like
being able to describe your dreams with precision. This

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becomes a time that the story to be told when someone
like Jasmine falls into your life, is how she, despite her
flaws, improved you for the better, before she hefted
herself off to a world she after all was more natural to:
more Mary Poppins—or better, Cold Comfort Farm. The
problem with purges of the kind we’re experiencing now,
is that it’s going to leave us with fewer Jasmines when
we’re actually in mind to appreciate them. Seriously, a
good number of our babblers are actually going to be
amongst our best, but just tragically untethered from
madnesses we use with proficiency to assure ourselves
sane--like what happened to Fitzgerald in the '30s, when
a world thought things like fascism sane.
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Labels: blue jasmine

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Elysium
Elysium
When Matt Damon's Max encounters the kids who
surround him hoping for money, there's a tiny bit of

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tension in the moment, like what we've got is a wildlife
encounter between a mature bear and a curious pack of
wolves, which should end with maybe one nip or a loud
roar, or maybe some mutual entertainment, but could
potentially go horribly wrong. But as soon as Max drops
them a bit of money, we understand that in this movie, if
you're of the dispossessed kids, are elderly, or a woman,
you'll understandably do what you can for a bit to eat, but
you're all earnest and good, even if choked down some
for being so always scared. Guys can get rangier, but are
not more interesting for it: unless of course that they'd
get a kick out of an exoskeleton being drilled and bolted
into you is going to make you look even uglier and cause
you a great deal of pain, is for you a show that they're
"complicated." So there really is nothing about the people
left behind on this overcrowded, desert planet, that is
interesting, and there's not much to our hero: who serves
up samples of guesstimated-minimal-necessary shows of
the abeyance and cowering and obliging that he has to
do, lest he lose the one thing that gives him some
satisfying edge over everyone else on the planet—his
having a job—and just seems to add more and more pussfilled wounds to his large, fatigued mass, as he goes about
the movie. He has sufficient pulling strength to ensure
the narrative moves and so we don't feel permanently
caught in this awful place, and that's really about it.
He says he wants to live, and that's why he wants to get to
Elysium—to have his radiated, disintegrating organs, all
in a magical moment, repaired. And of course this means
he'll end up sacrificing his life and not living, even if he
can't say, like Robert Kazinksy's also-ultimately-selfsacrificing Chuck Hansen plausibly does in Pacific Rim,

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that he rather enjoys living his life. But the character who
really shows the kind of exhilarating heft that comes from
not passively letting a world turn ill-fortune toward you,
is of course evil-agent Kruger, who takes upon his taking
over the space-station command with the same
persuasive suavity as his swaggering a three-shooting
missile-launcher into launching position, to down three
ships that would have been traumatized a space station
as if befelled by an insect invasion, if he didn't stop them
short before arrival.
It's not really Jodie Foster's Delacourt, that is. There's
something about these overt mother-types in current
movies, that whatever their momentary grandiosity,
makes them feel from the start horribly doomed. Like M
in Skyfall and Crystal in Only God Forgives, who also
looked to possess the acumen to persist and thrive in
their positions, they're hit with some kind of wounding
accusation that's set them up for some kind of justified,
necessary, coup-de-grace by the end of the film. They’ve
leveraged themselves in an un-allowed way so
profoundly, that even if most men still part around them
or out of fear pretend to keep faith with them—only
offering up at-best glancing blows so that only other
empowered women might hit them by mid-point with
something more solid—an executioner has been let loose
in the world that's going to get them, even if not
themselves left in the end to be an ongoing hero. They
can dwarf whole male hierarchies for awhile, but
something about their being all alone while a whole
world waits to get behind a single moment of seeming
narrative necessity, makes it feel like they can for sure be
taken out.

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Once she’s out in this film, Kruger soon goes too. And so
we have a bunch of androids bringing medicine down to
huge hoards of dispossessed people, who of course oblige
their weakest to get their remedies first. Somewhere
some village boy shows appreciation, but kind of
preferred when the space ships aired but got blown up in
space—that was cool, mom! And the other villagers
gather around and stone him, and not a spark of
interesting doubt ever showed itself in this universe for a
millennium of years. The men are dumb while the
women are smart--but since this just means they go
nurse rather than ambition doctor, male anxieties remain
soothed.
Posted by Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston at 10:26 AM No
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Labels: elysium

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Only God Forgives
Only God Forgives
If you've suffered from being used incestuously by your
mother as you became a young man, Ryan Gosling's

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character Julian shows what you might do in
recompense. One, get away from your mother, like a long
way away—Thailand's good. Two, find yourself in
structures that seem as if a bunker and are labyrinthine,
and where the wall patterns are like compact shelves of
ancestors, or warding glyphs, scary to those who aren't
used to them, and maybe even partially in your favor, so
you couldn't possibly be unwillingly dragged away, and
where any intimacies you might entertain within have the
protection of carapace around yolk—they will have their
time. Three, have boys around you about the same age
you were when you were abused, and instead give them
encouraging pats of support—from this, some good to
others, as well as some assuagement of your own hurts.
Four, re-explore relationships with women, but where if
you're the one submitting, it's done very gently; and
where for the most part you're just getting used to the
idea that women, that sex, can be something under your
control. Five, exist at a time when if your canny,
resourceful, you-dwarfing and daunting, war-ready
mother arrives back into your presence, masters you in
your own den, your still-existing pliancy to her means
you're the paltriest obstruction to a crusader supped on
resources of a vast conservative landscape that has once
again begun to stir: bent inwards to her, you hardly
require scything, and can pretty much be just walked
through as a righteous kill is staked.
You'll have to have something that would yoke her back
to you, though. Her out of the picture altogether, means
no chance for rapprochement, for adjusting or in some
limited fashion mastering her, so you might know for a
moment the self-assurance that would come from

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knowing you had it in you to finally insist on borders, as
well as brokering for yourself a new kind of space you
might use with other people. And possibly out of
structures put in place to keep her more under your
terms, sneak in for yourself a bit of the whole scale
intimacy that boys hunt for from their mothers like
dwarves through staunches of ore to gold. And Julian has
this something with his older brother, Billy, the mother's
favorite for being the eldest, the strongest, and for
possessing a penis so large it draws awe, who for being
the favorite when this means the inverse of what it
normally does, seems incapable of immunizing himself to
her ingrained influence to try something like genuine
intimacy on, and is seemingly susceptible every night to
having his need to dispense his sense of being a childvictim scale over into his becoming a perpetrator of
butchery—inevitably involving someone young and
hopeful, like his once-self was, attacked so thoroughly to
form her own gross pond of parts and blood.
His succumbing to his drive to kill someone young and
vulnerable, draws his mother, Crystal, back to Thailand,
and when she arrives she stakes her claim on longassumed territory, and garners her penthouse roof suite
away from whatever hotel-precedent that would dissuade
her temporarily from it. The flowers in the background
are pink, and so too the limited, nervous, would-bescene-abating receptionist's garb, but the place never
really knew the color until she came in and showed them
what it can do worn, when affixed to even a very tired,
great lady. We have a sense that in each place she’s in
subsequently, she feels so presumptive, so masterly, she
might boast that she’s no longer sure she dressed to

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match the décor (which, you note, she always does) or
whether it had taken antecedent notice of what she was
in the mood for and made adjustments. Still, even with
her feeling that her claim on this section of Thailand is
broad and meaningfully unchallenged, Julian gets some
of what he would hope to acquire from her. He’s had
enough time with his girlfriend, the proud prostitute Mia,
to feel he can square it against whatever mockery his
mother might present against it, and gain the foothold of
a mother having to realize her claim on her son is itself
going to have to be adjusted—even, potentially, subjected
to the harrowing sidelining of becoming secondary. This
is all he could possibly get from her, though, as when Mia
challenges him on why he lets himself be ridiculed by his
mother, his response to her is simply fervor: staking any
more than some presupposition against his mother
requites him back into simply being her hardest
defender.
But even as Crystal fits back into her Thailand operation,
exhaling smoke as casually and confidently in her
spacious hotel room as a dragon nestled in its adopted
den, or admiring young men’s muscles like chops served
before her, she has made a miss-step: as warned, the
Thai climate is no longer one where cops can be killed,
and the best move from her would have been to have
spent less time repossessing and luxuriating, and more
time reconciling and preparing. What has changed is
ancestors and ancestral traditions, represent not so much
something that is being dissipated as a country sways
urban, but being recovered, having strength lent to it, as
people once again are finding something most true about
themselves as a race, in customs ostensibly unchanged

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for generations. The movie paints this as sanity, a slow
return to decency—the ways of villages and country life
are beginning to speak again. But it admires that what it
at least as much is, is about a capacity for righteous
revenge that whatever milieu it is slowly preparing itself
to replace, would be stopped short by. You for sure like
the cop in this film, Chang, the representative and
embodiment of this renewed spirit, when he asks his
daughter’s baby-sitter about what she prepared his
daughter for dinner—he respects the sweet sitter, and he
means his payment to feel well-earned, a tribute to her
(it’s the movie that would have us contrast this payment
with the exchange of money made at the beginning of the
film, which was for drugs). But your admiration for his
penchant to respect the often-overlooked but valuable is
more than curbed, when proper payment for not seeing
becomes the loss of your eyeballs, and for stubbornness,
the loss of your life. For sure around him if we were
comporting a colorful scarf, sunglasses, and carrying
’tude, we’d lose all such in a hurry: there are two that do
this in this film, and neither ends up doing very well.
Otherwise he’d grab whatever conventional tool in his
near vicinity, and use it to instruct us on some respect—
no doubt involving some permanent maiming. And as for
his second in command, there’s lust in his eyes, craving:
we feel it, and it’s repellent.
Chang slays Crystal for her egregious presumptions on an
intrinsically modest people, and here is as sure in what
he does as many Russians are becoming in their attitudes
towards homosexuals, or British are becoming in their
hard-line intolerance of porn, or Americans are becoming
in their universal cheering-on of athletes having their

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careers cut off brutally for being exposed as cheaters. If
he’s a god, I insist he’s a god to fear, not one to welcome
into our lives as someone doing necessary cleansing,
however sometimes hard to watch, as his executions are
often performed before us, demanding our assent. But at
least for Julian, his killing stroke to her neck stills her so
he can do something indecent but which makes sense—
putting his hand inside her womb, as the child in him
nestles along maternal warmth, freed from
complications, like incest, or envelopment. This is what
he needed from his mother—close proximity, warmth,
safety—and his cunning, intuitive, brash act here might
even helped service a huge wound of his own. And it is
true to what I think Chang actually represents that these
hands which were ineffectual as weapons but effectual in
obtaining compensation for a parent’s abandonment,
may in the end have been severed from him. What really
gets Chang’s goat, is what is at issue with any parent who
would spank a child senseless: a child presumes.
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Conjuring

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The Conjuring
I don't know if contemporary filmmakers are aware of it,
but if they decide to set their films in the '70s, some of the
affordments of that time are going to make them have to
work harder to simply get a good scare from us. Who
would you expect to have a more tenacious hold on that
house, for example? The ghosts from Salem, or us from
2013, who've just been shown a New England home just a
notch or two downscaled from being a Jeffersonian
estate, that a single-income truck driver with some
savings can afford? Seriously, though it's easy to credit
that the father—Roger Perron—would get his family out
of that house as fast as he could when trouble really stirs,
we'd be more apt to still be wagering our losses—one
dead dog, a wife accumulating bruises, some good scares
to our kids—against what we might yet have full claim to.
The losses will get their nursing—even the heavy
traumas, maybe—if out of this we've still got a house—
really, a kingdom—multimillionaires might blanche at
trying to acquire, while at a time when even those a scale
up from truck-drivers probably can't even afford a runt
house and are surely just renting, like runt peasants of
old.
Normally, I think it's likely that if everyday sort of people
are presented to us in film, we're more likely to identify
with them, and wish ourselves more akin to whatever
more possessed—cooler—characters are also about. Not
so true with this film, though, as Ed and Lorraine Warren
—the paranormal experts—are about as chastised and
wary as we tend to be. They are the type who when they

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describe their wedding night sex, sound like those who if
they added a few extra raisons in with their porridge
would feel like they've made a guilty trespass, with
pleasure beyond that, something they're now
permanently apart from. They are the type who can make
their basement into a hold for a Dante's Inferno worth of
evil-possessed artifacts, each one a trauma of a whole
family (at least) being slaughtered, and have it not feel
like they have too much to be concerned about. There's a
kind of immunity to further harm, it would seem, if you
go about like as if you've already ingested your life's
portioned quantity of it before you've even seen much
grey hair reflected back at you in the mirror. If life has
poisoned you near mortally when you're still at the point
where you should still resonate optimism and promise,
all the demonic uglies will part around you in thorough
disinterest and seek preferable prey—something that will
empower you as if a pillar they've got to nonetheless still
recognize and be inconvenienced by in their having to go
around, and a lesson which also felt right in if-youingest-yourself-with-malaria-it's-likely-you're-going-tobe-okay World War Z. The Devil is interested in those
who affront by being ripe with life—not, that is, with you.
The Perron family is that, however. With their large
brood, pet dog, ambitious home, and pretentions to being
entirely self-sufficient and nuclear, they're the post-war
American dream. And so they're exactly the sort the Devil
would chase down even if they didn't set up shop in one
of his Earthly abodes. This is effectively what happens in
the film, by the way—someone's being chased down. Only
in this film it's after what one person in particular has
achieved for herself: the mother, Carolyn. She has

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achieved a glorious family, with her favorite life moment
being a time with them at the beach, with it already clear
to her that with them she had everything she'd ever
wanted. This moment is used to lend strength to her
when it looked like she was going to go all witch, but it is
also the one that ensured her a regressed, beautyshunted, generation-older woman would afflict her by
trying to undo it as well. The great beast in this film is
simply a mother's mother. We don't traffic in psychology
which once had the momentum and the guts to face it,
but when pretty much every mother has a child, she has
simultaneously something all her own as well as a cruel
visit by someone—her mother—telling her to dispatch it,
slit its throat or beat it senseless, and come back fully to
her. It's near every woman's experience, as she desists
against her mother's need to continue lifelong supplying
her her own unmet needs for attention and love, and
instead presumptively chases down her own; and it's
something science and-so-not-just-folklore has
fortunately pinned down as an actual existing thing we all
have to reckon with—specifically, the postpartum.
Few women talk about it, but it's something nearly all
women near at conscious level come to know. And which
their guys will no doubt remain oblivious to, as women
decide sharing would show themselves devils to faces
that will never, ever, understand, and remove them from
life anchors needed to compact the great acquisition of
their own family down. So couples go about their childblessed, married lives, never shorn of near-justified
mockery, represented by what lies beneath. She's out
there, though. Your spurned mother is out there. And
from unaddressed quarters in places you have the good

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sense to be wary of, she's hoping still to hatch her
requisition for your love and the full loss of everything
you preferred to have lent your love to.
P.S. One of the comforts in the film is in its instructing us
on how much better it is to desist in anything hubris, and
instead join convention. We've got two paranormal
researchers ... who bow completely to Catholic tradition.
It's like they're not so much aberrant as they are
representative, of what a church has taken seriously for
centuries before the modern fuck-you. They're all fidelity,
that is. And in this film, along with being—tenement-like
—amongst a crowd of other people, an extended family
rather than selfishly nuclear, doesn't this feel like the safe
place to be? That is, when the Catholic church agrees
with the researchers—seems of the same base perspective
and wave-length—don't we feel sorry for those who were
never baptized and have now got to depend on leniency
to not be left to being tortured and soul-fucked by a
scary-as-shit assassin, in complete sadistic control?
I'm not a Catholic, and in fact on my own time read the
presumptuous, self-satisfying John Updike, who would
seem to support every self-pleasure, every I-love-youhoney-but-your-concerns-and-needs-are-not-exactlybeing-factored-here orgasm, that would make a Catholic
fret and recoil from upon witnessing, but this film will
move me to cross myself a bit more in public, I suspect. I
think I'm going to need to have some of the demonpossessed—even if only the dumber ones—presume me
one of their own. I'm just one brick amongst a heraldic
company of others. Don’t tell me all alone I might be
sandstone serendipitous sculpture!

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The Wolverine
The Wolverine
It may be that what Wolverine would need to recover
from dealing with foes on the scale of a Magneto or a
Dark Phoenix, is find himself amidst an environment
where no one he comes across looks like he or she’d
present much of a problem to that great big bear we
encounter at the beginning. It’s a pisser that that venom
woman can spit into him a spider that cancels his
healing, because otherwise the movie looked like one for
Wolverine to remind himself he could reasonably just
vacation himself through an onslaught of angry swords,
guns, and knives. Truly, other than this one deadly ability
from the venom woman, mutants here seem so
downscaled—any ordinary guy, good with a sword, would
seem just as much a problem. So if all he needed to get
past Jean, was to get some soothing attention from a
humbled, lovely girl, who you know is incapable of even
making a loud gesture let alone bursting into a fiery,
taunting, red-headed demon-woman, then this trip to
Japan was just what he needed. Only, this environment
was one that could infest him with a parasitic tick—the
spider—he couldn’t possibly have worried about
incurring while living cave-man in Alaskan woods (btw,
when he removed it, were you too thinking of the slicing
open of a salmon and the removal of guts? … Maybe I did
so out of fidelity to that great bear.). And because of it,
while Japan might requit him back to women—near
literally through baby steps—it still reminds him of how
badly human beings can suck.

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Think on what he had invited upon himself here. He had
once saved the life of a man—Yashida—from nuclear
explosion. After this, he had the presence of mind to
realize that this man’s honor might still be vulnerable—
his fellow officers had hari-karied themselves, in ritual
recognition of their end—and manages to refute his
offering up of his family heirloom sword in a sublimely
honor-salvaging, appropriate way: he makes it seem that
his keeping it is just his taking care of it for awhile until
he comes back—after his eventual death—to reclaim it, a
plausible enough scenario. What a sublime offering he
gives this young officer, and Yashida makes use of the
rest of his life to become a great industrial leader and the
father of a great clan. What he does to Wolverine in
recompense is beyond the pale. He lures Wolverine to his
home in Japan, tugging once more on how brilliantly
being from a honorable culture can be used to
inconvenience anyone with a sense of decency. Then
when Wolverine gets there, he tugs once more: not so
much by security reacting to him like he might be a threat
—though this was a way of soiling someone you are
supposed to venerate—but by ensuring he gets a
monstrously-thorough scrub-down before meeting him,
which can play as just Japanese custom but also as
someone using excusable means to show you through
your constant honoring of expectation, that your proper
role is as a supplicant: with your suffering yet one more
inconvenience, how sure are you that your most
profound instinct is actually not to submit? His piece de
resistance is of course to instruct Wolverine that his curse
is to be a warrior without a lord … and so ostensibly that
what he was waiting for was not just to be sundered of his
perpetual youth and healing abilities but to be essentially

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bidden to do so by a lord he had surely been lost without.
We wouldn’t much admire Wolverine if he didn't finally
put up road-blocks to this manipulative idiot exactly then
and there. The whole thing plays a bit like someone
taunting someone out of envy whom he knows he’s going
to have to play underhanded in order to actually get to
“submit.” We can imagine ourselves personally tripping
up our well-earned defenses against people in his
situation, and are in fact fully bonded to Wolverine when
he knows he’s going to have to rip apart a good chunk of
Japan to achieve some self-esteem-salvaging, fuck-youfor-that push-back—but now without this being at all an
easy thing to achieve ... Fuck! how did we get ourselves in
this situation? It must have been stupid, stupid, stupid
me! (fists slammed repeatedly against our heads.)
The revenge motive does work in this film, and we cheer
his getting his healing powers back like we would a
recovery of our own after a masterful, humiliating play
on our own openness and gullibility. And we’re angry
that the film connives yet some other thing that can best
his healing power—the poison-cauldroned arrows.
Really, we just wanted him to flip all those arrowed to
him, to him, so he could mince them like fan blades; and
for the rest in the film, melt through any foe presented to
him as quickly and easily as through butter.
Those who made the film seem stunningly unaware of it,
but the idea that anyone should buy into pressing
arguments that it is time for them to die, is given pretty
powerful refutation by the setting of the film. In a
flashback, we saw a good part of a Japanese city
destroyed at a time when aggressive nations were taking

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their defeat as a sign that their cultural history was over—
that it was time for them to die (indeed, during WW2
Germany's last days tens of thousands committed suicide
—the largest mass suicide in history). Yet the movie is
mostly set at a time when the city has long past taking
even this in stride. Sometimes the harridon that is
preying on you finally desists, not for your finally
confronting it, ripping its influence away from your
heart, but for its having finally had its fill, and falling off,
satiated. If this is what happened with him and Jean,
maybe he should desist being the warrior—as as
admirable a course as this seemed for him—and head
back to better know his young new Japanese girlfriend.
He might go through a long lovely spell with her, and be
totally demon free.
Posted by Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston at 10:09 AM No
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Labels: the wolverine

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim
The movie Amadeus argued that when a protective,
tolerant environment is nurtured, genius that otherwise

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might have been cowed from developing, can gain the
confidence it needs to come to life. Pacific Rim argues the
same. If Earth is up against an alien force that'll crush it
unless it reaches the pinnacle of the one thing that has
been instrumental in blocking it—the drift between two
well-matched individuals—then relationships, deep
bonds, are going to need to be given the allowance
needed to develop and ripen.
If it wants to die, that is, it would replace the one
program that got humanity excited in its ability to match
the adapting alien invaders—the Jaeger program—with
one that feels anti-innovative rather than innovative, one
that substitutes a you're-lucky-to-have-this-job
environment for one where all humanity felt part of a
team. You'd build a wall, that is, where people dying
while working on it is both bad and good news (someone
died—but left an opening!). And which when busted
through by an alien in one hour, simultaneously both
dispirits and gives a lift: One looks at the alien's physical
resemblance to the Sydney Opera House it incurs
immediately after breaking through, and you think not
just of its mockery of it but of how great if would be if
conjured now was something on our side which more
aptly responded to it.
It is met by just that Jaeger. And what begins a sequence
where the rulers-in-charge start scrambling, revealing
themselves as self-concerned elites and no longer being
listened to, is for sure some sense that its young pilot—
Chuck Hansen—makes such quick work of it, and
conveys authoritatively that all we needed were better
pilots: alone he makes whatever people-abating

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arrogance the wall-idea still possessed, wilt even further.
While the film errs, in my judgment, in not quite giving
this thoroughly arrogant Chuck Hansen his due, it
remains true that it is in good part his rightful arrogance
here which shoulders out of the way any further
contesting that the remaining Jaeger program is really all
that humanity has got left. They were quit by the same
kind of arrogance they were trying to abrogate to
themselves, a deadly "Et tu, Brute." But as perfect as it
was to have this vital young bull-dog beset upon these
decrepid autocrats, who maybe all along have coveted the
idea of being left alone in luxurious bunkers while the
rest of humanity got crushed, it is precisely this—
bullying, intimidation—which is antithetical to the Hong
Kong Jaeger abode he is due to inhabit.
He's the best pilot, but there's a sense immediately upon
encountering the environment that presumes in Hong
Kong that his less pleasant aspects more make him rather
than Raleigh, the exposed artifact the place near wishes it
could rebury. What Admiral Stacker Pentecost is
presiding over, is a base where you respect whatever
leads to accomplishments; and especially as he patrols
down the line of the four remaining Jaegers, slowing
people down to individually consider the crafts
themselves and the crews commandeering them, he
makes clear that this can come from phenomenon that
might require a bit of work to see as exceptional. The
sense you have is that even if the Chinese crew had
relationships with the basketballs they always carried
around that seemed grossly fetishistic, that even if the
Russians never relaxed out of their stern intensity—like,
ever—the respect you'd have for them would envelope

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everything they presented to you in the most appreciative
manner. Pentecost doesn't direct Raleigh to attend
carefully to the genius of his scientists—in fact when
Raleigh to some extent dismisses them by saying "this is
your research division," his response isn't to defend them
but to acknowledge that "things have changed." But
implicitly he does, by how his being around them doesn't
do anything to force them to quail any of their very loud
peculiarities (it's funny how even their individual
attempts to show themselves likewise finding the other
scientist's mannerisms and arguments bonkers, very
much work counter to purpose). It's not that he's vested
in seeing them as mad scientists, himself the calm
commander acknowledging the mad idiosyncrasies at
work in the labs, but that he knows that these are men
who have had to have had enormous fight in them to
have remained, despite the abuse they've certainly had to
shoulder, so still confident in themselves and fresh to life
(they love having people share in their cool adventures—
it seems to trump every other consideration). And from
these types, even from just a couple of them, he knows
you can get giant results.
Their greatest result comes mostly from Pentecost's not
cowing one of them from doing something "rock star" on
his own, which he saw no possibilities in. He's
permissive, and an adroit protector of anyone who has
demonstrated his or her worth—even if this meant
disobeying orders—but still of limited vision—the father
who can't quite see what his kids are capable of until in
fidelity to their own growing confidence and sense of
what they actually need, they disobey and show him. And
he's not quite in fidelity to something the film is quite

543

explicit in trying to communicate: his singular
leadership, his understanding of himself as a fixed point,
his tendency to encourage one person while discouraging
the other, doesn't lend to the kind of powerful dynamism
you'll find with a pairing, and in fact partakes of the
bluntness of a wall. It's as if unlike Raleigh, who one
never really understands why he could go solo
(something to do with him having such an enlarged
feminine as well as a masculine half?) or what was really
so distinguishing about his ability to do so (do most
Jaegers lose a pilot in a fight?—it wouldn’t seem so), the
reason he could commander a Jaeger solo was surely
because he was never really built to be on the same
standing as other human beings in the first place. The
only way he could ride with another, it would seem, is if
the other knows he’s mastered—which doesn't really
equate to the cooperative and equal, two-hemisphere
brain analogy, and more like ego making quick work of
id. But he's still effectively protection for individuals to
eventually reach the sort of deep bonding you sense they
would be happiest and most fruitful effecting. Something
akin to very well-matched marriages between remarkable
individuals, in fact, and a giant evolution from the
pairings we'd heretofore seen, which would work more
because of what they already share with one another
passively from DNA or shared childhoods rather than
what they might eventually learn as adults to contribute
to each other.
The scientists—the mathematician, Gottlieb, and the
biologist, Dr. Newton Geizsler—know each other's
tendencies so well, not just because of their close
proximity and because they're otherwise likely friendless,

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but because each of them has with integrity taken the
subject matter they are most interested in to similar
climactic heights. When they come together in a mindbond, you know it’ll be a good one that’ll produce very
important results because they’re not just inherently
simple people who can come together as readily but byitself as uselessly as two simple molecules or lego bricks,
but very complex but diverse, spirited matter that once
finally paired might take on a load beyond what other
minds could handle and beget a miraculous
breakthrough. You might say that if all the other sorts of
pairings were type one to three, theirs was type four—
which would of course make what happens between
Raleigh and Mako Mori humanity’s type five:
our endgame Exterminator.
Previous to Mako’s pairing with Raleigh, memories are
shown as if they are all laid together in a neat sequence:
all settled, and a bit bland for it—a newsreel you’ve seen a
million times that you spin through to get on with fresh
material. This is even true with what incurs between the
scientists. But it isn’t true with Mako, who interjects into
Raleigh a memory sequence where a specific memory
resists any such pressing-down, arrogantly piercing any
tendency to make a settled story of it with its assertive cry
for further attendance. It isn’t at first supposed to be true
with any pilot—as Raleigh says, first bonds are rough. It’s
a sign of inexperience that a pilot “chases the rabbit”—
that is, unruly undealt with memories that draw you to
them. But still the film suggests that usually the way
towards control is not so much to deal with these
memories, tend to them, but rather to as quickly as
possible learn to subjugate them—as if the best bonds the

545

program had known had come from people who could be
dissuaded from thinking much about what had
constituted them. Though he seems to appreciate that
something better could be forged, Pentecost fears taking
it on, believing there simply isn’t time for it. He is moved
ultimately to give her a chance mostly in fidelity to a
promise he once made to her, but he should have
recognized that he had someone on hand who could
finally make it less of an issue. That is, though it turns
out that Pentecost sought Raleigh out because he could
commandeer a Jaeger solo, the film makes clear that he
should have been staking him out for the magic he could
forge with another person.
When Raleigh first meets her, we get a quick but clear
offering of what will make them develop into such a great
team. They’re not afraid to test and challenge: she
assesses him immediately as not what she had imagined,
and he responds just as quick … in Japanese, as a nod to
how the fault, the aberrance, might actually be in her. But
there’s humor—agreeability—in the situation, the earned
touché, and Raleigh rests with that to make sure the
encounter becomes mostly a friendly, even charming,
well met. She doesn’t fall back from her assessment that
he isn’t really right to pilot the Jaeger, but when, after he
requests it, she admirably forthrightly tells him so, he
makes sure it doesn’t lead to grievance but for grounds
for subsequent consideration on her part. Importantly,
when he says she might be right—he means it, and is
visibly affected, even hurt, by it, before he regroups,
which shows his respect for her ability to assess him and
the importance that he let it in. But at the same time he
has strong faith in himself, in all the conclusions come

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from constant testing he’s been through, and begins the
very important process for her to think that if you’re too
much perfect pattern it’s a perfection that comes from
being denied your rightful due acquaintance with life.
If he touches her here, it’s going to cause quite the stir.
And with her becoming obsessed with him, with her
challenging of him taking on some of the tone of someone
who’s lashing out at everybody else is really just an
expression of her increased dissatisfaction with herself,
and of Pentecost of someone who is quickly sliding away
from well-earned love into precarious disrespect, he has
unwound her from her over-attachment to what had been
virtuous in her long spell of respectful abeyance.
Pentecost decides to make her Raleigh’s partner, but his
consideration was concurrent with her beginning to
insist this must be her role as convincingly as a great
daemon new through the rift. It turns out she isn’t ready
to be quickly processed into a Jaeger pilot, but also that
what Pentecost could only see as a disaster—her early
trauma truncating the influence of her bond partner and
dominating her while in control of a deadly giant—is
viewed by someone she has the capacity to form the
deepest bond with, if he can be made to part of even this.
Having scared everyone to death, everyone in the base
parts from her, but isolation from them but guides the
creation of a quiet cocoon where she and Raleigh can
reconnect after each one has witnessed and experienced
what has mostly constituted their current identities. This
disaster developed into a miracle you’ll hardly ever see in
crisis times—a profound improvement in understanding
and earned trust. And one senses in exultation after a
hard-won victory, that here between Raleigh and Mako

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you’ve got a development, a creation of a mature bond,
you’d stake against any engineer’s “fifty diesel muscles
per muscle strand” to show that humanity’s fate
ultimately lies in its capacity to take on the hardest
assignment, even in pressing times. Humanity wasn't
ready to take it to the aliens, until all prudence had been
shed.

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Labels: pacific rim

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This is the End, and Summer
Self-Surrender
This is the End, and Summer Self-Surrender
I saw This is the End again, and the thing I noticed more
this time is how scary the film ends up becoming. The
lady beside me twitched as if herself hit, when a car
crashes through a guy on the street, flipping him rapidly
upwards and away to pavement as but a smashed-up

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carapace due to be crunched into even more ignominious
road splatter. The film picks up again into something
really disturbing, when a devil with a massive spearing
penis subjugates Jonah Hill into a rape victim. And
afterwards it gets worse, when Seth Rogan and Jay
Baruchel find themselves without it realistically seems,
any means to innocently show the kind of self-sacrifice
and not-self love that would get them by surprise into
heaven: Craig Robinson had seemingly claimed all
possible avenue to demonstrate yourself sincerely
repentant after knowing that this is the avenue to
abscond yourself indulgently into heaven, with his
amazing "take your panties off!" charge on the Lord of
the Rings Balrog thing. This means that while they see
many others taken safely away to a further lifetime of
new experiences and shedding of all that lied past, they'll
be left alone, with unloved destitutes without any fate,
denied even the pleasure of knowing someone intended
this barren fate for them: they were just passed
completely by as a narcissistic self-loving judge sought
out his same amongst the innumerable chastising
ponderous before him.
What happens to Rogen and Jay at this point of the film
is pathetic, though not with this saying anything undue
about either of them. It's a hard thing to be a selfpossessed, self-respecting individual, someone who
doesn't just give in when someone powerful draws down
on them; and it comes close to impossible when someone
forces you back into the experiential state of an infant
about to be abandoned for good by his parent. Rogen and
Jay will clearly do anything now to still have a chance at
being picked--there are no limits, and you can tell. And

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this has nothing really to do with their belief that God can
be trusted, but owing to the intolerable fear of being left
to rot, while so many others are drawn off to God and a
halo of eternal happiness. I know they ostensibly are
those who finally learned to be true friends to one
another, but, really, who they are at the end of the film is
the guy who poked his head into Franco's house earlier,
willing to titty-fuck or be titty-fucked, if only they'd let
him in. If they were self-possessed, they would have
remained in many ways who they were earlier. Both of
them, we note, are at heart natural skeptics, questioners,
doubters, who serve as constant reality-checks for friends
who might be becoming lost to themselves. Even with the
Devil clearly possessing Hill, Rogen is still calling out his
friends on their arrogant presumption of the Trinity; and
his inability not to show when he thinks someone is
sounding crazy even when it compromises a moment
when it would feel good to be completely agreeable to a
bro, comes clearly through when Franco delineates his
absurd plotting for the finish of a proposed Pineapple
Express 2.
Rogen is reluctant to agree with Jay that Franco's party is
full of assholes and that his house "is a bit much," but it
certainly isn't clear that this is just his deluding himself
while the "hipster" outsider Jay has here kept his cool. At
the finish, Jay admits he was afraid to join Rogen in LA,
and it is possible that what this party is is just an LA that
would have brought a wrath upon itself for too closely
arrogating the assurance and confident self-regard that a
jealous Athenian god would have assumed for herself. Or
himself ... one wonders if the reason we are shown so
much of the various demons' gigantic phalluses owes as

550

some kind of quitting response to Franco's own sculpture
one. In retrospect we realize that not one of the
partygoers was chosen into heaven--it's the only way they
wouldn't have credited Jay's accounting of what had just
happened to them. And for a moment Franco, nestled in
his cozy "throne" chair, with his whole company of
grateful, happy, beautiful friends by his side, for good
reason draws Rogen to doubt what he might have seen or
even turn his back knowingly on Jay: two presentations
of considerable power have just been handed him, and
considering the former involved people dying horribly
and a night sky filled with pockets of beaming
"spaceship" lights, it's to the massive credit of what this
LA has going for it that when it is feeling at its most selfassured, there is genuine reason for a momentary rethink of who best to ally oneself with. God, from
whatever pantheon s/he belongs, is, quite incredibly,
going to have to amp things up a bit to close the deal.
This, s/he certainly does, and the Seth and Jay we
encounter at the end might wish for themselves each day
a plate of their favorite cookies and a date with their
favorite band, but one thing they won't do is be
meaningfully distinguishable from any of the other
heaven drones impossibly happy to yet be alive, ready to
do as bidden, and willing to see Master in any which way
s/he pleases. As Tony Stark remarks in the Avengers,
"historically, not awesome." And so in good faith to what
Rogen normally offers, I offer my own amendment to the
film where rather than Franco at first being drawn to
heaven but losing this prize for being a poor winner, Seth
loses it for considering that as grateful as he now is, that
God as much as Jay should probably still have tried

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harder to get to like the people at the party ... Michael
Cera's butthole indeed was as adorable as we all
imagined, and the rest just seemed to be having a good
time.
I originally thought to write this second take on the film
as a preamble to a discussion on the Internment, another
film from the summer where we're supposed to just be
happy for two guys making it into some utopian space,
considering the hellish wraths they'd be exposed to if
they didn't make it in. The hells are about the same,
actually. Owen Wilson's life as a mattress salesman,
where if he isn't perennially sharp and obedient he'll be
outside in a clown suit in forty degree weather, would
have drawn him for sure into alcoholism and very likely
at some point, suicide. He for sure, never, would go out
on a date, as befouled for being a loser as the plagueridden were in hence-times. But I think you can pretty
much transplant my thoughts on This is the End onto this
film. For my purposes what it still serves is to show how
humiliating it is that the god in This is the End is never
really questioned, for just like the Google one all he really
does to convince others' eager acquiescence and
surrender of self-pride, is show himself the only safehouse available while the world underneath pretty much
everyone, crumbles away. Then he counts on you
dressing him so He's The Great Human Benefactor; and
you do.
It's certainly a trend this summer to have Utopia offered
to people, but it isn't always allowed to stay in a light
favorable to its own preferred self-regard. Oblivion, for
example, ends up showing its own up. Yet even though it

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surely wasn't its purpose, Oblivion still suggested how
much we'll hide in the safe abode, regardless of how
much integrity we'd assume for ourselves if we braved
living on the more tenuous outside. I know, for example,
that Tom Cruise's initial digs were certainly something I
am longing for. So too his sense the perimeters of what
each day might expect, and the portioned human
bounty--his adult friendship and love affair with his
wife--that awaited him at the end of each day. How sure
am I that I would be able to addle on over to the outside,
if each day there meant being bludgeoned by something
sizeable you might have to account into your awareness
of things? As an attempt at recompense, I might dream of
being absolved into known grids.
Given our current clinging inclinations and fear that risk
might mean abandonment, Wall-E's efforts to nudge us
outside of pattern and safety seems lovely therapy that
we should be glad to have incurred into our constitution.
Jerry McGuire's bold sinking us into someone's failure
and outside status for most if its film, however, has
become something way too undistilled for our rattled
tempers to handle ... I wouldn't look for it any longer on
subsequent top one-hundred AFI lists--unless of course
that and Forrest Gump turn out to be two of God's
favorites.
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Labels: this is the end

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This is the End
This is the End
Emma Watson makes an appearance in This is the End,
and it's to scold Jay Baruchel on his better-thanthouness, and subsequently later to axe off the top of a
giant scrotum statue that camps mock-proudly in James
Franco's fortress dwelling, as she goes raving femmefatal on these jumpy boys. She isn't meant to come off
badly; in fact the film wants to make it seem like
it's deferring to her. But basically she's one who can't be
included within the boys' play; and it can, and sorta is, a
way of revenging yourself on someone. Like Kate
Middleton, she's become too high stature to be other than
someone you part your way around, like a school of small
fish around a shark, when she's predated herself upon
your premises. This film's reminder of this status was
probably invisible to her; in fact I think she thought she
was including herself in with those expected to bear some
of the ribbing, and therefore also part of the fun. But if
she wanted the film to force people to make more of an
effort to treat her as someone worthy of engaging in some
truly respectful, that is, not beyond genuine critiquing
and in a less stand-offish way, to have cooperated it
wouldn't have used the film's "rapey vibe" joke as a plant
to really just set her off and jet her out of the film.

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Rather, rather than the safe humor enabled by keeping it
to Tatum Channing alone, it would have challenged us to
think on why we were so disquieted by how they were
willing to show themselves depicted when she ended up
following Tatum out on a leash as one of cannibal-leader
McBride's zipped-up gimp bitches. Think on it. We
wouldn't have fretted because we would have found
ourselves thinking – "this could end your film career”; we
would have done so because since there is absolutely no
way we're ever going to not want to see Watson as film
royalty since she's one of those serving as a god-type
starlett fully immune to disposal that keeps us feeling
small, temporary, and therefore unpretentious,
somehow we're going to have to live with an image so
much more impossible to chase out of our heads than
Middleton's caught-unaware boob shots. How many in
the film audience would have thought that if she let
herself be shown in this position she's dumbly submitted
herself to a further collective pile on? That is, to what
happened to actresses caught out in the films before,
notably with Elisabeth Berkeley, and as was at issue and
palpably for a moment at hand in Seth Macfarlane's
assaulting query at the Oscars to all of still-acting
Hollywood's accomplished actresses who'd ever for
continued relevance bared a boob? And yet regardless
we're still keeping you in place, even in a position where
hereto cognitive dissonance and upset would meant our
immediately needing to chase anyone like you out, is
what we could not at some level be aware of. For some of
us it'd be a spark to reflect bravely on – why. And from
this, some subsequent work toward counting her just as
much worth dignity but on the same human level as
ourselves.

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The film is ostensibly about the end of life, but to me it's
about how to best spend time while in an ostensible sort
of purgatory. Kind of like Casablanca is ostensibly about
that, when in reality they're both about how to spend
time in a place that you'd want no way out of. New life
comes to James Franco's castle home and ongoing party,
just like all newcomers find their way to Sam's suave
long-standing cafe, from a world that has become
increasingly hostile: Germany has crashed through
Paris's gates in Casablanca, but here still, with people
taking swipes at Rogen’s film career while greeting Jay at
the airport, and with the "mean shopkeeper lady" scaring
him from even attempting to buy a chocolate bar while
sojourning to a grocery store, things on the outside are
making doing anything while exposed to it other than
full-immersion buffering it, an increasingly unlikely thing
as well. Hosting is left to someone who knows to let
everyone come in and find their place and do their
business, while never leaving people without someone
who still will conduct affairs. There's some underhanded
dealings on the outskirts of the place, and, we can
assume, some rowdier characters, but the center is the
confident host and his robust rotund piano-playing
entertainer, keeping things humming, pleasingly tipsy
and teased.
When hell descends, it's rather as if the boys had
retreated back to Seth Rogan's place, home for xboxing
fun and a lower scale sort of ribaldry – boys wrestling
and "I drank my pee" jokes – in a noticeably confined
space. No longer is it so much a place to spend much time
in, and the outside world of flames and awful happenings

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seems to not have much of a fortress wall to give backtalk
and bulwark to: the sense you have when one of them
steps out, is of someone leaving their pitched tent into a
ranging tempest forest fire ... it does feel brave as shit
when Craig Robinson ascents to entering it. And so there
is a sense that the rest of the film is about dogging
towards a mechanism by which a space sort of akin to the
lost safe James Franco party-world can be unlocked,
while meanwhile entertaining us with the full possible
supply of fun and jokes that can be squeezed out by a
bunch of quick-witted guys caught in some place quickly
being besieged by their own excretions. At the end, when
they all ultimately leave it, it feels like they were forced to
... the “outhouse” had packed brown and was pushing
them out.
The relief from leaving it, almost makes once again
meeting Danny McBride a thrill, even as we're
understanding him as a pack-leader cannibal. And so too
even James Franco's being eaten, as after-all this links us
back to the party where he actually suggested this
happening to him in a sequel to Pineapple Express. Mind
you, we were already primed to like McBride. In a movie
world ultimately built of people taking pleasure in refuge,
he actually exults into a status of someone who isn’t
going to let anything from the outside cage him. When he
greets his former friends, it feels appropriate that he
seems almost to have forgotten them – "You guys are still
alive?" He can do the shocking thing of cutting ties when
appropriate and moving on, which is a miracle in a world
designed to make people want to cling to the familiar. No
wonder his peers were shocked that he’d leave them so
totally, and no wonder even after trying to shoot them

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they let him go untouched. However much we get a spell
of a great purgatory in this film there's of course no
Divine or Fiend, but this was unanticipated and
unfamiliar enough to for a moment seem an outerworldly
visitation.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Bling Ring
The Bling Ring
"Bling Ring" ends focusing mostly on Emma Watson's
character, Nicki. When the enjoyable world she had
participated in ends, she gets sucked back into her
mother's embrace, her cult, that heretofore she had found
successful means to quarantine as something only to be
endured while at home. Her own escapades have ended
with her mother having her back entire, and even if she
talks back to her, gets angry at her for repeatedly
insisting on inserting herself into her interview with the

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Vanity Fair reporter, we see she's due to become as much
the harmless clown as her mother is. Harmless, because
however much she might climb in this world -- her family
is by no means poor or without resources -- they are
made to seem so much trapped in a disassociated
mindset, poor things petting their preciouses, they're
more like pilgrims caught enspelled that the more sane
world pilgrims may have to temporarily reckon in but
mostly will shake their heads at and step by, as they
interact with adult matter that still undergirds world
affairs. There's also Marc, who we also focus on, and are
made to understand as someone who was grabbed into a
situation there's no way he could resist, and will now
have to spend having his temporary bling-ring enrapture
cleansed by four very brutal years in prison, hopefully
keeping himself together so that when he's free he's
thoroughly sobered but not spiritually snuffed out.
The film turns a cold shoulder, that is, to the actual
ringleader of the Bling Ring, Rebecca. When Marc gives a
look to her in the court room, knowing she'll be remote
from him but hoping she might just not be, it's like she's
been revealed as an alien slitherer deposited amongst
teenage life, blithely unconcerned if what she made of her
surroundings interjected a poison into the community
that stalled the social fabric. She's just a few steps away
from being someone a TMZ or even a Vanity Fair
reporter might turtle before if s/he had to make light of:
Do you yet remain someone who's propriety keeps from
considering things I could engage that could upend your
positioning in a conversation and make you my
plaything? The film lets her seem someone so cold she
would draw people to her to fulfill her own ends, all the

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while intending to leave them as scapegoats while she
scoots off to a foreign locale. Someone almost
unfathomably awful, who is incapable of remorse and
immune to any impulse to oblige us by compromising
herself so we can imagine her as either chastened or
harmless, and thereby laugh at or maybe sympathize with
but otherwise quickly regroup from and head on with our
regular life. Someone who demonstrates that some
children deserve to be tried as adults: no one is left
feeling sorry for her four years in prison. And indeed her
four-year term might not be enough: we may need eight
to fortify ourselves to her next invasion.
It can indeed be difficult to reveal who she is in this film
to show she does deserve to be taken in almost near
opposite. I am drawn to think of her as a conquistador
who's come upon the Aztecs, or any European who found
themselves on an island of dodo birds, in the way she
shows this whole rich land of Hollywood homes is ripe
for the taking. Like only one hundred conquistadors were
required to claim a whole civilization, like dodos were
almost like walking already-cooked turkeys to their
European discoverers, Rebecca shows that five kids are
sufficient to make it seem as if all Hollywood has been
used as somebody else's boarding house. But the fact that
Hollywood has become a place where cars and homes are
so unprotected that their plundering comes across as
innocence for the first time plucked, should ground the
more mature amongst us to realize Rebecca in a more fair
light. The sense you have is that somehow all of
American's sense of vulnerability and fear and violence –
that we know is everywhere – has been quarantined away
from these affluent quarters into the world of Middle

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America. Mid-America has been left a stronghold
suffering from torments from within and from without,
which explains why when at the finish we see signs of
people who actually populate it (in the courthouse
guards, mostly), there's not an ounce of rosy life in any
grim one of them. (And pity Marc, who when he is shown
in the bus with fellow prisoners, comes across as a last
sad twilight of still-cheery rosé before a remorseless term
of sole stone-grey.) It’s been going on for enough time,
we suddenly realize, that Hollywood could learn to assert
as a reasonably confident norm something which had
been unthinkable: there is no need to lock your doors, for
we know we have no reason to fear intrusion. And so this
shocking innocence comes across as the grossest
vulgarity; another status symbol to show that being rich
means being in a literally different universe from the
poor.
Rebecca is portrayed as mostly someone who has evolved
to the point that attitudes built around older realities
have slipped away from her first, and so in this
deliberately wrought out world of unchastened innocence
she indeed understands it as a world of accessibility. She
isn’t, that is, afloat in some realm of unreality, but
understanding it straight. (Showing Marc this, by the
way, is one of the ways she’s generous to him – a true
best friend, with the first of course being that she
immediately apprehended insecure him as someone fun
to know.) She’s the first into this land of open resources,
and knows to make full use of it, so her story isn’t about
how she robbed celebrities’ homes but how she cohabited them, fit their world onto hers, and long enough
so that it could be integrated near as blasé hers. I think

561

we sense that we have a lesson to learn from her; and
maybe for some of the time in their readily and
intelligently discerning particular items amongst all the
wealth of stuff (they're familiar with all the items, or at
least the clothing and jewelry, and with plausible justice
believe they know how to better ensemble it than their
"owners" do), we take advantage of their being so
engaged to maybe imagine ourselves along with them,
plucking an item we see that they may not yet have
claimed, and delighting in it. I’m not saying that we ever
find ourselves as confident as Rebecca, but when Marc
slips off being so apprehensive and learns to chill, I think
we’re wondering if we somehow have been taught a
lesson we needed to learn as well; and this is
disorienting.
And when Rebecca sees nothing amiss in taking Paris
Hilton’s dog, I don’t think we so much awaken from an
evil spell that might have been partially cast upon us and
see her as the foul snake she surely all the while has been,
but take advantage of a trespass we can trap as surely
irredeemably foul, to cooperate with an evil we may
temporarily been loosened from. That is, I think what
makes this rich landscape so plausibly innocent of the
trauma affecting the rest of the nation is a collective
agreement on our part to defer to the rich and powerful,
to enable them with privileges appropriate to emperors
from four centuries ago. When we walk amongst their
paradise, we find sign to be angry at them but realize we
can’t be drawn – even in these conditions – to see them
downed; a realization which would force us to realize how
much of our awful world is really of our own sad, sick,
surely masochistic, wanting. So us, actually the ones still

562

caught in a kind of spell, decide at this point in the film to
view the kids as having temporarily been caught in one.
They just went on a wild ride which disjoined them from
reality that they would have to sober up from. I think
with enfranchising ourselves at their expense, we’re in
the mood to make allowances, and I think especially with
Nicky and Marc, we make them – however much Nicky is
a made a subject of ongoing laughter as she and her
family become a bundle of idiocy.
We know that we were actually taken inside Paris
Hilton’s own home in this movie, and that what we saw
up close were her clothes closets and designated party
rooms. I hope that some of us feel sick that thereby
there’s a paul cast over all this film where the rich can
draw as close as they want to us, let us feel their
presence, if this is what they’re in the mood for, but it
ever goes the other way it has to be managed so that the
rightful norm that ascent is only by permission of the
powerful, is confidently reasserted.

.
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Labels: the bling ring

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Man of Steel
Man of Steel
Kal-El doesn't have the very best of upbringings -- though
it is still very, very good. His Kansas parents genuinely
wish him the very best, but struggle sometimes -- owing
to their own limitations -- to provide what Kal-El needs,
what any kid would need, to in fact become an adult who
through belief in self might just change the world (not
impossible: in certain favorable times -- times of
permission, not times of crisis or war -- near loneindividuals in fact do). His father is worried that if his
son shows his super abilities too early, he'll be
overwhelmed by how the world would react to him, and
the alarmed world wouldn't have an adult him, to calm
them down some and help them stay sane. And this is
sensible, but clearly installs in Kal-El a sense that any
time he summons his natural instincts, summoned along
with it is a frustrating grapple-hold of restraint that'll
frustrate and infuriate him. His mother will do what she
can to calm her son down, but never quite soothingly
confidently, but rather as if, if she isn't particularly
skillful, a genius at calming down her own aroused fears
and self-doubt, her son will be lost to inner-torments and
feel all alone in the world. The son grows up in a world
where everything is so heightened. Apparently with the
littlest thing, any understandable natural kid instinct

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given life, his whole known universe could go up in
smoke, however much he still does have a mother and
father always ready to step in and stomp down some of
the impact. The result of his confounding upbringing is
that when Kal-El's father refuses to let his son save him
from the tornado, one feels not just sympathy but anger
towards him: don't you know that you've confounded
making your son feel perennially tight with some
conviction that his agreeing to cede himself so totally to
you has meant losing you as a father?
No wonder he ends up wandering about spare, terse
landscapes awhile afterwards, working one little-thanks,
scarce-contact job after another: he needs to be in a long
zone where his need to temporarily refute his upbringing
-- all affections -- is given echo by his surroundings. And
fortunately, he eventually finds company with his original
Krypton father, who is a bath of cushioning natural ease
of self-comportment, and who is given time to enclose his
much-loved son safely within it. From him, and from
allowing himself a good span just to practice and get used
to all his abilities that he has for so long kept under-wrap
-- bounding up and arcing against Earth's atmosphere's
kiss with deep space, and the like -- his son could stop
being someone who looked naturally bound to Christ-like
sacrifice himself just to cleanse himself of his Earthparents' expectations of him as epic, to being a true super
man, who not just through physical abilities has it in him
to have a formidable impact on the human race.
It should be noted, that this is what he does do: when he
allows himself to be captured, agrees to have hand-cuffs
placed upon him -- and without any dis-comportment --

565

people aren't taken aback by any physical ability but by
his ability to let himself be humbled, appear humiliated,
if it serves a larger purpose. Yes, some of us have still
been raised with enough support and love to evolve this
much maturity, is what he communicates. There is still
hope for Earth.
Many critics find the destruction of good portions of New
York really bothersome in this film, offensive, I'll explain
why for me this was not at all the case. There is a way of
experiencing this film, including the alien world stuff, as
really just documenting a normal human life, some good
person born outside of privilege, who's potential to
realize himself will ultimately have to grapple with the
fact that our contemporary world isn't one that is
interested in seeing class divides being crossed. I promise
you that I actually experienced the Krypton bit, the prebirth, as something uterine: all the oval shapes, placental
tentacle entities, pools of great significance.... So to me
Superman could have just been an everyman, whose
developmental story, from embryo knowing only a
uterine world to a child birthed into a vast blue-skyed
"Kansas" cosmos, is the fantastic story everyone
experiences, and which we sometimes attend to -document -- to show how magnificent and remarkable
each and everyone of us is. The everyman version of this
story would have the parents perennially amazed by their
child, perhaps because he was a late-birth, when all hope
of it seemed lost. And their belief that their child will
change the world, every really loving parents' difficulty in
accepting that such a beautiful, glorious miracle could
ever not just continue to incrementally grow to affect our
collective destiny. And so when Kal-El's fate ties him in

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with New York, a feeling I had the first moment he made
contact with a Pulitzer-prize winner -- Lois -- I couldn't
help but think of what New York society would do to him
if he was an everyman hoping to become upwardly
mobile in the big city.
Without super powers, it'd recognize him only as
someone without an ivy-league background, without
establishment connections, and without all the
mannerisms that are causing many of the well-to-do to
not really be able to recognize the rest of their human kin
as human in the same way they are. With them, New
York would actually kind of do the same. "You're out of
Kansas; your father is a mechanic … this is what we
cannot shake as mattering most; so how now do we
account for the fact that your super abilities and true
alien status make us feel silly for still intrinsically
experiencing you this way?" The answer is to make you
into a Lebron James (credit Andrew O'Hehir for this
reference), a super athlete we talk all the time about at
the water coolers, but who is never found outside a
circumscribed categorization as some kind of supermachine. He could in reality become someone who kind
of is like Christ in being morally ahead of a people he was
born into, but because recognizing this would mean
crediting that they have something to learn from the
Kansas-born and raised other than some
accomplishment of great physique, it'd be consistently
waylaid, in preference for the always-available greatphysical-feat bit. He’d eventually be taken as a moral
example, but only when elite society had decided it was
ready to make the American proletariat in general as
much as well, which would happen when it could be done

567

in such a way that it showed them to be great suffering
workhorses, not those who really ought to be directing
the world.
And so what would an everyman do to still have his say in
New York? It wouldn’t matter – he’d have no chance. But
what would a super-powered everyman do?: he’d shock
the elite, the establishment, clear some way amongst
them, and start setting up something of his own from
where they had scattered away. The big blast of New York
in this film, the buildings going wither and tether, is a
manifestation of what this Superman would do
(figuratively, not literally) when he had to reckon with
the big city (yes, there is a way in which I see the villains
as mostly an extension of a universe that empowers KalEl). He wouldn’t be a Clark Kent, because such a figure
would be only allowed to work mail room, and would
never be introduced to anyone important (Clark Kent’s
appearance in this film as someone who’d work close
with prize journalists/editors/publishers, is really just a
momentary substitution of a previous cinematic
Superman – Christopher Reeve – as a cute and expected
way of dolling up a legacy picture (The film had really
ended at this point).).
It’s harsh, but this is the only way available to him. If it
had been a different era, the 1920s say, rather than the
very 1930s-like now, when a regular man from the
Midwest – a Gatsby – could shake the core of a big city
like New York and find it actually grateful for his great
awakening stir, there could have been near simultaneous
integration included with his meteor-level impact. But
since our times are the opposite, with our Sears and

568

iHops not reminding us of what they long to do (at least)
in the film -- of post-war American mid-America; of true
heartland virtues held by those who hold the blandest,
the least discriminate of tastes -- but of American dregs,
even something fundamentally good is going to be taken
as bombast missileanic.
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Labels: man of steel, superman

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mud
Mud
There's a movie that Mud appears to be, but isn't, that
one would probably wish it had in fact been. That is, one
that looks upon the heroes of our youth and sees in them
projections of the strength we at the time needed them to
have, for understanding them as versions of ourselves but
in the adult world. Ellis is a fourteen-year-old boy with
an abnormal amount of bravery, self-control and heart,
but a lot of what is distinctive about him looks like it
might be at risk as the life that nourished it--his life with
his two parents, living up river amongst loner

569

individualists--is collapsing, and he'll be absconded by
his mother into a townie life. The townie kids hang out in
packs, are ruled by peer expectations, and don't seem
worth a whole bunch. They make great components of
your own feats, if all you do is periodically range amongst
them and thwart or humiliate them, but if they were your
everyday milieu your automatic need for company and
experimentation amongst people your own age, might
mean your own inviting upon yourself a poison which
would cripple what was notable about you. If you sensed
that something of the kind was due to hit you, you might
in Ellis's position start imagining suddenly being visited
upon by mythic characters of great strength, that seemed
to have bridged the divide between childhood and
adulthood but wholly retained their fierce nature, heart
and will. And when they talk about life, as Mud does, as if
it is fundamentally ruled by mythos, you'd have the
reassuring sense that your own appreciation of the world
is brewed from the same mix the whole universe is
universally of. You might lose confidence during the day,
and feel powerless and without sympatico friends, but in
the evening glancing at the constellations of the Archer or
the Centaur, you'll feel that wink of appreciation that will
gather some of your strength back to you.
Arguably, the mythic characters I'm referring to in this
film--Mud himself, his "dad"--the retired military sniper,
and Juniper--are shown to in fact be, if not nothing,
certainly lesser of the sort. But not too much, in my
judgment, for they still seem of greater motivation and
purpose than anyone in the film--exempting Ellis's
mother, whose drive to finally live her own life, and even
her wishing for her family to gather for dinner, chimes in

570

the movie as sort of a death-knell an incantation of
powerful eternal adolescent spirit has to be very quickly
created against. And the danger in their being
represented this way is that it conveys that what you need
to do in life is set your sense of yourself early, abscond
from the social world your peers will get into during
adolescence and early-adulthood, and arc back into some
kind of interaction with the world in adulthood--as if you
alone had diverted from "the college" path in the game
"Life," to rejoin them later in contest of family and other
stakes, should you desire. I'm sure in some cases this
might keep you "truer," more truly functional and happy
than everyone else--ala Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. But it
probably means that the universe of conversation and
social refinements and personal awareness and
understanding that one can be become acquainted with
amongst life with groups of people, that can make one
actually surpass becoming an adolescent's hero and
become a fully realized social adult, will be denied you.
For this kind of growth you've got to be able to relax and
hang--be the kid who sees some good from milling about
with a peer group; be the kid who would near more want
to relax and jam with Neckbone's uncle Galen (to be fair
to the film, Galen is not portrayed here entirely without
his attractions), than putting the universe right by
conjoining Mud to his eternal equal.
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Labels: Matthew McConaughey, mud

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek: Into Darkness
One of the criticisms of Abrams -- perhaps the foremost
criticism of him -- is that he likes to let other directors do
the hard work of staking out new territory, and then he
comes in into fully delineated terrain, and makes some
adjustments -- "Sally would work better with Jonathon,
and the couch should go there--". With his last film
everybody had him as of the dutiful flock of Spielberg,
and with this film, at least at the beginning -- the same.
It's Raiders of the Lost Ark, with tribesman chasing
down our interloper heroes, spears thrown, an artifact
used to momentarily buy time by tricking the tribesmen
into forgetting their current purpose and supplicating
themselves, and an escape into an airship (no snake, but
discord of a kind: Spock and Kirk feuding). But okay, in
truth this sort of chase is how he began his last Star Trek
film, so maybe this is just how he gets a number of his
films revved up. The possibility, though, that Abrams is a
bit too comfortable being in a great director's shadow,
being a "mini-me," clasped in clothing and
appenedendums to someone/something solace-offering
and protecting, comes more to the fore --very irritatingly
to the fore -- when we realize that Kirk and his crew
aren't actually adults out on their own adventures, but

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more like misbehaving kids back home with disappointed
parents, who can't believe what they made of the freedom
granted them to explore the woods. This is the way it was
in Abrams’ Mission Impossible 3, if you remember. And I
bring up this film because, for me, this is not a crew who
will ever credibly go on some five-year journey all on
their own, but more like a team of top-notch agents, who
will go out on raiding missions but always at the end back
to home base, reconnecting with an older and more
entrenched culture, that coddles them, relieves them of
some of the responsibility of their own actions. Mind you,
Abrams has this way of making it seem that if it's too
much just your own braced against the world, where
you're the head, accountable to no one, or when you're
engaged in affairs that are a bit too much gravitas -- as in
this film, when a great-power world war is threatened
-- then there's no room for play. Everything has to be
rigidly taught (taught, as in tight), and often angry as
hell, so that you've got so much seriousness going on it'll
ostensibly allay any moment that sneaks in that reveals
how you're as nervous as hell and feeling totally not up to
it! Older characters seem to manage this okay, and in
truth get to be relaxed about it -- witness the cowboy
reaction,"Ah hell," the admiral offers Kirk when he learns
he's been talking to Khan. Ostensibly it's more their turf,
like as if Cold War and WW2 was more their turf rather
than our current more insouciant foreign policy. Abrams
does better when things are allowed to be not so serious,
when the seriousness has been tempered down, and
affect and warmth and can slowly infiltrate and build into
something. When Kirk decides not to seek out and kill
Khan, but rather capture him and have him go through
due-process, you feel it in the theater like a relief of

573

tension; and it is no surprise that on their mission to
capture him we get some development in the UhuraSpock relationship which had been crushed by all the
emergent seriousness, with tendrils for a later more
whole-hog exploration of it --"What is that even like?"
What is that even like?, or what would that be like?, is in
fact a question that in effect gets floated up a number of
times in the film -- what is like to be fired by your best
friend (Scotty, by Kirk)?; what is it like to feel someone
else's death (Spock, through Pike)?; what is like to see
McCoy flirt?; to see Scotty souced? And it is a question
that gets its best reaction and exploration from us when
we've been given a climate suited for empathic
identification rather than route response. Down-play the
stakes a bit, and we get that -- I swear the film would
have been just as good if the whole thing took place in a
bar, exempting of course Khan, who could be checked
into every once in awhile for bedazzlement at what one
superhuman can do to whole line-ups of opponents.
No doubt, it is partly owing to Abrams' deeply democratic
nature that he has more than a few of the crew serve as
captain (Kirk, Spock, Sulu, and -- in effect -- Uhura, when
she leads the encounter between the crew and the
Klingons), but just as true is surely because he seems to
intrinsically identify a position of ultimate command as
confining, as something you almost want to loft for
someone else to do (sucker!): Don't necessarily think of
Sulu as privileged here, for instance; he's more stationed
while everyone else cavorts into space.
Back to my thought that what this crew is is a team of
elite special agents, never completely detached from

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home base. At some point in the film I began to think of it
as akin to the last James Bond movie -- Skyfall. Two
great genius agents (Kirk and Khan; Bond and Raoul)
betrayed by an older, very near retirement-aged Mother
or Father who ultimately had bequeathed them. I have to
admit I actually did not enjoy this Trek all that much,
and felt that when things threatened to be taken out of
the youngins' hands and given to seniors who didn't seem
so equivocating and abashed at going out on their own,
even though this meant huge regression to Clash-ofCivilizations war, it looked to be more captivating than
the plentiful smaller shows that Abrams put on. So in
compensense I did force myself to think upon how much
more evolved this special-agent film was to Skyfall. We
were supposed to root for the militaristic turn in Skyfall,
with headquarters being drawn back to a WW2 bunker
rather than kept open but vulnerable in the city, with M
quoting Tennyson, about old men, old values, returning
undaunted in a world of threat. We were supposed to
hate counsels and trial-justice. We were discouraged to
empathize: never for a moment were we supposed to like
Raoul, or consider that he had just cause (even though he
was sacrificed for heaven's sake!) -- rather perhaps heap
more on his misery, by insulting his bold fashion (I liked
his shirt, myself). It's very bad when you essentially have
a twin of yourself but cannot think of anything nice to say
about him, because this means you're as far away as you
can be from empathizing for your unwanted qualities
being grafted onto him for dismissal. Into Darkness
sidesteps this darkness -- we are to like law courts, hate
or at least regret old dinosaurs returning, like a relaxed
atmosphere that kindles an appreciation of nuance, and
of course throughout thoroughly enjoy and like Khan --

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and tries to fold all kinds of calamities – including twice
the devastation of good parts of a downtown -- into it that
can still be managed in a non-inflated, non-emergency
measures, unalarmist way. There is an evolved person in
Abrams, however much it is still true he's a boy-adult
head-of-family caught as a fulcrum in a Serious Man /
Everybody Loves Raymond world. Making something of
the domestic, because he likes the living/family room,
but also because there’s no way he can allow himself out.

Oz the Great and Powerful
Oz the Great and Powerful
Some time in the past there were tinkerers who were
great and powerful -- so great that in this mundane world
of ours it still would require a moment's recalibration to
not consider them actually half magic, if someone
persisted in your face that they were in fact so. Edison, if
you want the best example, though you might also go
with Benjamin Franklin, or whoever it was Scorsese's
movie Hugo was worshipping. Stage magician Oz hopes
to be like that, and spurns women left and right to keep
himself fixed to this goal. He'd have been okay if this
didn't also mean his deceiving women into his bed, but
for this, judgment appears to have cast upon him and the
rest of his life is going to be about lifelong serving the
bequests of women, fixed to a spot rather than a free
wanderer, readily reached by three very empowered,
three very great and powerful, witch-women. But the
actor playing Oz is James Franco, and so maybe the
people behind this film had in mind some revenge upon
women too. For Franco is sensitive and responsive

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enough to suggest to most sensitive souls that he's hardly
a man so involved with machines or aspiring to sky-high
goals he's dulled to humans, but there's something about
how though he says and does and expresses about as
you'd expect and desire, he's still applied a thin layer
everywhere that registers as if it's all a lie--like you're in
truth interacting with some puppet of himself, that's
close to him but not really him, he's operating via remote
control, a la Tony Stark's suit in Iron Man 3 -- his
passive-aggressive revenge, let's not kid ourselves, on
Pepper, for her owning his day world while he couches in
his basement cave. Franco probably isn't so savvy, so
great a magician he's made himself entirely inaccessible
to you; he can be figured out. But the thing is, what
would cause him to smirk like he's got something on you
you can't balk, is that you don't really want to figure him
out: he's the only plausible man in town, and Oz had
become akin to the Castle Anthrax, managed by women
who are becoming insufferable to one another and in
need of a man, that beacons out promise of man-rule
glory to get some hapless guy in to serve as some post to
steady them, as well as for stud. Anyway, Oz might
become convinced that he's really great and powerful,
after apparently making up for every past sin against a
woman he's ever effected -- which is so much his
foremost concern the last gesture he makes to the latest
evil witch haunting the land is an apology -- but the
audience knows this guy is owned by a need for
reparations. How easy it is to keep a guy like that from
growing up -- just making every step ahead seem a
spurning of everything and everyone who preceded it,
and he's back to being yours. The end of the film shows
two great ones battling-- the white good witch vs. the

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more mentally balanced evil witch -- and when the good
witch defeats the evil one, it most certainly doesn't end
with her apologizing but with her sure of the rightness in
making this once actually most beautiful and regal witch
(here played very stately by the stunning Rachel Weisz),
the only nightmare horror/grotesque to be found in the
land -- something of irrevocable consequence just
happened here. This is grown-up matter for the only
grown-ups in Oz. Ben Kenobi vs. Darth Vader at the
finish of Star Wars – but at a time when boys who know
best toys and tech, a la George Lucas, aren’t going to be
allowed to be so ball-danglingly front and center, so these
roles go to the girls while the guys do the patching up.

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Labels: oz the great and powerful

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby

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One thing I never confused the movie for the book for,
was its portrayal of Gatsby. In the book I could believe
that the huge estate he had prepared was but to lure him
Daisy, while in the movie it is surely his
aggrandizement--I honestly thought most of the time of
Orson Wells's Kane while watching puffed up Leo. He
strolls his party not so much invisible, as he is in the
book, but hidden master of it all. And he shows off how
that special person and that special person and that
special person are all there, rendered as they are into part
of his ample house collections, with them trapped to not
want to be anything else, owing to his hosting the biggest
draw in town--Beethoven in his second act, and this just
one feature. Every night he houses his parties, and every
night the whole town is corralled into it -- he's master of
the house and master of all. And so at the end of the
evening when he strolls outside and looks across the
water at the beaming green light across the bay, it's
absinthe to well the evening down amidst cool air -- the
logical follow up to the evening's clamor, a cleanse, not
what what has been sitting with him throughout and that
he has longed to return to.
Daisy comes across as someone he has to possess for a
complete validation of himself as great and complete. By
his side, the past when he was just a young officer on the
climb, unsure if he should dare merge with someone of
assured standing, becomes smoothed into him. As much
talk as there is in the film that once again knowing Daisy
means Gatsby's all-important green light's dwindling out,
the only way there's any sense of it the film is that it
might mean Gatsby and Tobey McGuirre's Nick Carraway
being distanced from one another, as it is their

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encounters that are a bit of magic. Magic, as in first-date,
guard's up but set for maybe great change, is not Gatsby
courting Daisy with tea, but Nick for the first time
refusing his own otherwise agreeable and placating
stance and leaderly simply refusing to let Gatsby leave his
home and thereby lose his great chance with her he's put
so much effort into procuring, while also humiliating and
really hurting Daisy. Nick here instinctively puts aside his
friendly bemusement at Gatsby's unpredictable
dramatics, for doing what has to be done so these two
people he's fond of don't lose from this hereto magical
and charming day, full as it still remains of possible
beautiful portent. There is magic also in all three of them
hanging together during the day in Gatsby's mansion,
with Gatsby tossing his shirts at them, partaking of the
clownish fun of sport throws at town fairs, but take away
Nick and leave it to the other two to display something
meaningful, and it's the gesturing carapaces, animated
but without souls, embraced together on the grounds
outside of one of Gatsby's parties.
I'm being a bit hard on Gatsby, but there is a sense that
just maybe there really is very little to the guy--that those
who'd judge him--notably Daisy's husband Tom
Buchanan--are possessed of something solid that refuses
them any slip into admiring or being bedazzled by him.
At the beginning of the film, Tom is made to seem a nonthreat, for being by one and all regarded as someone with
rearguard prejudices in a world of Jazz Age authority.
But still you don't forget him as a judge too, possibly
because his relation--that is, Nick--is just meeting Gatsby
too, and he's in a sense quickly onto him as well. Nick
realizes that Gatsby needs tempering--"if only he could

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have been content with his sweet date with Daisy over
tea," he alases. He's like old money prejudices, with a
lighter side, a real fondness for youth and their eager
tries and newish ways, who'd court peers he still belongs
to to try and see them the same way; and his having so
much standing in the film, gives solidity to Buchanan.
When Buchanan reality-tests Gatsby in a way which fully
renders him down--the only real murder in the film--and
gains back his Daisy, Nick had already been rendered to
the point that the best he could do for the person he still
wishes the best of luck to but who realizes he has no hope
of further influencing, is communicate true love and
support for him through his otherwise lying nods to
Gatsby's determination to gain sake himself Daisy--the
only thing he wants at this point from Nick is a show of
deferent affirmation, so it has to be the conduit for
something truer and larger he'd prefer to communicate:
great realization and maturity and love, from Nick. Nick
knows it's likely "the wolves" for Gatsby; Buchanan only
supplies them. Hard judgment to the softer man's
realization--"Amadeus's" Count Orsini-Rosenberg to
Baron Van Swieten, upon Mozart's decline and death.
Nick of course is shown writing a book that we know will
puff up the Gatsby legend that is being debilitated as his
estate is being looted. But I think this is just pause for us
to think on the words that are being literally inscribed for
us on screen. There was a great show of a kind for us in
this film, but it may pass as just a film amongst others -not even possibly being one of our Depression's notable
showy numbers, that we should get to high acclaim if this
one wears like the last one ("Forty Second Street," Busby
Berkeley, all show, no depth, anything to beat back the
pressing accretions of the Depression, and all that), while

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we know Fitzgerald's words are lasting three-gens plus,
and are looking immortal. The book is our true green
light, something truer to be engaged in, whatever our
current society's overall bent and mood, if that's actually
territory we're fond to explore just now, however much it
might not be, with all the bon-bons in this film looking
like they might just have been offered a little early, when
we still haven't fixed ourselves to believing you can be
like Gatsby and have fun and possibly be successfully
ascribed, at least, as paper-thin, if you've accepted your
lot is to live in times with no chance to beat back
judgmental oppressors if they're really, really
determined, to fix on you. The sin-watching Tom
Buchanans are going to have no handle on you, for your
mad gambits and wild dancing are acknowledgments, not
questionings, of how ascribed you are to live in mostly
dream-defeating times. The Toms would take note of
that, and would have no problem allotting you your
driving "Daisy" home.

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Labels: the great gatsby

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3
If you ever give someone a twenty-foot stuffed animal for
a present, you might want to consider that you're doing
so more out of a desire to affront the receiver than please
him/her, and that also possibly you're communicating
that you're the one -- the denied child -- in gigantic need
of love yourself. It could pass as just making up for long
neglect, as it is does in this film, but when you're
following up by fooling your lover (here with Pepper
engaging with simulacrum Tony while the real one pulls
his strings in his den) and then maybe not-so-accidently
fixing it so that your den toys substitute as nightmare
horrors to scare the Dickens out of her, the truth is that
you may be the one who is frustrated and in anger, and
that you are unconsciously being driven to communicate
it as loudly and aggressively as possible. Tony Stark is in
need of attendance -- being ready to lose his life in favor
of saving the world and finding himself in some other
dimension against the onslaught of aliens while with the
Avengers, has him the mercy of reoccuring anxiety
attacks -- he's got PTSD, as bad as any out of
Afghanistan. This might seem difficult to identify with,
but it's not really, as you've got a Depression on your
hands which is making sure you suffer the incredible
aggrievement of actually feeling more and more without
support while our awareness of the particular historical
situation we're in increases. You need a manger to lie in,
not your cold removed den, and this is what Tony gets, as
he finds himself removed from the world in some small

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town down south, where he gets to be slotted in with
some small boy's modest home and essentially just talk
bubble gum and comic books and harken to early-life
Christmas scenes -- so the Savior taking small liberties, in
the fortuned house to host him. Here's where it begins to
become clear to the astute that what you're still hurt from
is not what you're macho-maintaining saying it is, but
maybe out of the things that are floating up while on layaway -- topics/concerns like boys without fathers, bullies,
and the discourse you're floating always at your new bud
children which said a slightly different way is the sort to
flatten a child hard. Tony abandons the expected needs of
his new boy-friend about half a dozen times; he clearly is
taking pleasure doing so. This is supposed to be just
cover for the fact that he's the kind of guy who couldn't
care more -- but of course if this was you and what you're
actually enjoying, using as a remedy, is that here
repeatedly you've got a subject who has to be neglected
and abandoned "you" while you skirt off satiated and
unaffected, this is the excuse you'd use too. If you get too
much into this remedy you might neglect to cover what is
supposedly afflicting you -- as happens in this movie
when you take that wormhole that opened out of space
that afflicted our universe with multitudes of replica
aliens that is ostensibly the source of Tony's trauma, and
have it be inspiration for your own horrible revenge upon
foes as your penthouse's den hole opens and out comes
an armada of iron men to kill some other's dream. When
you're parted from your manger and back in adult digs
and engaging with your lover, you might make her
constituted momentarily as if out of nightmare things
herself -- like what happens to Pepper in this movie,
where she finishes as ripped older woman, dragon-

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blooded, and android (she's sporting parts of Iron Man's
armor). Basically a gargoyle, but for a moment not
removed from you, but akin, and family -- you're of
wormholes and annihilating/abandoning/table-turning
revenging things yourself. Apportioned some
"equipment" from pre-birth nightmares -- actually the
greatest sort.
Further: The dangerous Orient is made to seem a
harmless old man who smells up bathrooms, a
disappointment worse than the revealed wizard in the
Depression's "Oz." Is this because he's not ripped like
everyone else or because it's not "time" (who are we
kidding if we haven't half set it up already as our next
greatest enemy?) for China? Or are we expected to
implicitly appreciate that while left behind, that stinking
shitcloud of odor is accumulating, and will be source of
inspiration for the next worm-hole hell to chastise the
character-armor we're using against our times into
malfunction -- maybe the false villain really could only be
the true one once we've been made to associate him with
decrepity, bathrooms and shit -- spouted hell, not
singular and contained (-- the hero's-only denizens?)?
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pain and Gain (2013)
Pain and Gain (2013)
No film which can at all remind you from where Ronald Regan-era
began to about the termination of the first incarnation of Tiger Woods
-- all muscle, arrogance, and domination -- is going to really seem a
Depression-era film, where stupid willfulness is going to be
showcased simply as a sort of madness the hopeless adopt to believe
they've got a chance in the world. In this film you've got Michael Bay
as director, a bunch of body-builders as the main protagonists, and as
well a very A-team-reminiscent van as home-base, so you basically get
what you'd expect out of an 80's/90's film -- if you can amass a
signfiicant amount of stupid wilfulness, you'll be treated as a meteor
that's got to be allowed to destroy it's loaded-up fuel content of
others' carefully procured affairs. If you show enough of yourself
while daring to equivocate with them, it's "dispatch" for you -- as
appropriately happens to the Miami porn-king, who tends to the
gang's leader -- Mark Wahlberg -- the fact that a lot of what he says
makes no sense at all. Neither did anything about Reagan or Tiger or
Mr. T or Thatcher really make sense, but when society's obliging them
big-time, your reality-checks will go unappreciated, thank you very
much! Quite frankly, this film was delightful nostalgia -- the lady a
few seats behind me laughed numerous huge-heartly laughs, and I
chuckled along with her. The 80s, after all, as stupid as they were,
were paradise to our current time when the only ones who can
prosper are those who aren't will and muscle but just cany -- doing
nothing but what the times allow, without even a fiber of muscle
daring the alacrity of showcasing itself.
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Labels: pain and gain

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Place Beyond the Pines
Place Beyond the Pines
One might be tempted to say that after seeing this
film what you’ll want to be is a good parent – being
there for you child, so he doesn’t go astray – but
this isn’t really foremost what this film
communicates. Instead, it is really more about
automatizing, exerting yourself against the pull of
others, and experiencing how your self-assertion
forces others to adjust to your insistent sense of
purpose.
We encounter Ryan Gosling’s Luke as he is about
to take part in a circus act, where he spins about in
a circle cage, intertwining his motorbike with two
others in angry-bee-but-still-beautiful kaleidoscope
patterns. The camera doesn’t enter the cage with
him; we stop short outside – but however fantastic
an ability he has as a performer we get that this is a
skill one can acquire eventually, if bike-riding is
your natural bent. In short, there’s no adventure in
it for him, however much it does require a moment
of “steadying” before going on. There is no real
adventure to any part of his life – until he learns he

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has a child, and the fuzzy outlines of a new and
exciting acquisition and self-narrative – being a
parent and exploring life with a child; being the
parent he ought to have had – tease into view. He
becomes the willful child who won’t oblige what
others expect of him – he quits his job, despite
contract obligations, his boss telling him he can’t
quit – and is beginning to intrude himself into the
life of the mother of his child regardless of how
obviously strongly paired she is with her new lover,
who’s not charisma, but a dependable provider and
a dependable partner in this landscape of frightful
people-indifference, poverty and uncertainty. His
end-goal really is impossible regardless, it turns
out, but he can’t quite know it at the time, as it still
is just maybe something accomplishable if he
begins the adventure of acquiring an even more
risky skill – bank-robbing – which could also
involve his own death if he failed even just once,
but which opens up otherwise unavailable
wealth--“magic” to acquire what is otherwise
beyond him. The rush he gets from actually
carrying out successful heists lends him the brass
authority to put together a crib he purchased for
his child in his rival’s home, however certain this
moment of macho-assertion would lead him out of
his family’s life. But before he’s firmly out of her
life, he does winnow a family together for a short
while, earns himself a proprietorial sense of family
– which a photo, which, appropriately, lasts and

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lasts, captures.
We are supposed to believe that when police officer
Avery (Bradley Cooper) shoots and kills Luke, he
ended the life of someone else’s father. But this
truth is undermined because we know Luke was
pretty much played out anyhow – there was no
future for him; he was someone who lived a lot in
his short time, owing to his balls. So really the
effect of all Avery’s muddling over the moment
plays out more as him pausing on exactly how selfdetermining he is at this point in his life. He
became a police officer, it is made to seem, owing
in part as a passive-resistant way of telling his
father to fuck the hell off and let him lead his own
life. His assessment of his police work, of his fellow
officers, seems in good part determined by who
they must be to make himself seem part of a
different – more pure, simple and less
compromised – world than the one his father
belongs to. This illusion can’t hold up; and very
soon it becomes apparent that this new world he’s
lent himself to is just as ready to make use of him
for its compromised purposes. There is a moment
of self-actualization, of conviction, when he spins
his car around and balks his police officer
“buddies” to engage with his father once again. In
teeth of other’s willful expectations, he does what
he wants to do, and the film makes it seem as if
everything else is presumable after that: he’ll be

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someone who upsets others expectations (Just as
Luke was on the right path when before his boss he
essentially spits in his face and quits, here Avery is
on the right path when he forces the attorney
general to accept his terms, regardless of how
much this pisses him off), but who successfully
accomplishes his goals and has others adjust to
him. He decision to rat out a corrupt police force is
shown to mean depriving sons the company of
fathers they need, as they are jailed, longterm, and
therefore out of their sons’ lives for the their whole
teenage lives, but there’s more a sense here of the
thrill of how one person’s decision, of how possibly
“your” decisions, can create a wake around you and
force others to change their life courses, even
drastically, regardless of their curses and
vituperate anger, their insistence that you are the
one who is going to have to bend, not them.
Luke’s son actually does seem to have a good
father. He’s shown to be a regular family presence,
and there for his son in times of stress. But the
film, rather than show the importance of this,
shows it as meaning little but a challenge. How do
you tell two reasonably good parents that they
aren’t going to get to affect how you choose your
life? That his mother lied to him about Luke comes
across as an excuse for the boy to use to commit an
act of matricide – the letter to “mom” which
informs her he knows she lied. And I guess his

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father actually not being a Darth Vader – he at one
point encourages his son to see him as his true
father by saying, “Luke, I am your father!” – but
rather more like the dependable, non-descript
uncle in Star Wars who gets burned to death
without anyone much caring, is hardly shown to
require any refuting at all – there’s no authority
there to balk, just a perpetually standing placeholder. The son steals, does drugs, and nearly kills
two people, but all this is shown as the sort of wild
acting out that might be required for him to shake
off other’s expectations and ready assessments of
him, so at the finish he could plausibly be a fully
self-automatizing individual, heading off fully free
into his own future.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oblivion (2013)
Oblivion

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How many films exist where there are two worlds a
protagonist will exist in—the first, ostensibly
superior, almost always cleaner, but really corrupt,
and the second, more raw – if not also dingier –
but really the last remaining refuge of humane
community? Lots and lots, of course, and Oblivion
is another, and belongs with probably the whole
host of those which don’t really convince that the
hero doesn’t actually forego the more appealing
world. The two worlds in this film are the first one,
where he’s essentially living in a Tony Stark pad,
with his very pretty Pepper, who, we note – just as
we note with Pepper – comes close-enough to
being his age-equivalent. Good for the Tom Cruise
in this world, for conquering his fear of intimacy of
older women for the pleasure in mature company!
He has a hankering for old ways of the past, which
makes him not so much sentimental as cherishing,
but which could look to become obsessive: witness
his whole lake-cabin thing. And she has, or refuses
to acknowledge, not a wit of it, which can make her
seem a bit clinical, anesthetic, but also maturely
distancing – they are going to have to leave all this
behind – as well as a useful counter to her
husband. They work together as a team, and they
have the daily pleasure in knowing that what they
are doing assists the other enormously. But they
also have distance, so that every day when he
arrives back they have the pleasure in taking in one
another, maybe not so much anew, but with what

592

each of them accrued in their time spent apart. We
have here, or what we see and feel of them here, is
an adult couple.
The second world is essentially a tenement world.
Lots of dingy people, closing huddled together. It’s
a world of a “wife,” his actual legally married wife,
that is, but which has throughout really the feel of a
siren lover who has enraptured him – they talk
about how they would grow old and argue with one
another, but all we ever see speaks of new romance
not of how couples relate past this, try to romance
past this (his “false” wife in the first world, did a
good job previously showing how this gets done).
He gets to be a savior of this world, which makes
him a bit epic, mythic – what an adolescent dreams
of being before learning what it is to function
proprietarily in a world of adults. He gets to kill off
Mother for belonging to this world, but in the
previous one She didn’t require killing because She
had already been managed into the delimited role
of a boss – someone who is ultimately just as much
just doing her job, as accountable and non god-like,
as “you” are. Yes, I’m stretching a bit here, but
there is a sense that She, the god, really is just
mission control.
The first world wife judges Cruise tainted, and
won’t let him into their domicile after seeing him
devolve with his floozy. He is. He’s entered the

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adolescent imagination this SciFi film, of all places,
had built a world against – in its first world. She’s a
Ripley without the credit.

Original Article: A plagiarist's lame excuse: 

Addiction made me do it

THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011 09:32 AM PST

His problem is that he wants you to believe he intented the 
alphabet; when it gets to the point that other people’s works 
become like the alphabet — something everyone knows wasn’t our
own creation; only something we’re using to hopefully create 
something worthy — people doing the same will be equally worthy
as salute as original authors.

Permalink

Original Article: A plagiarist's lame excuse: 

Addiction made me do it

THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011 09:20 AM PST

Re: “Yet the rush to label his selfish behavior a disease tends to 
undercut the sincerity of the atonement.”
Anyone who’s settled in well with a disease, should understand 
others efforts to get in with one as well: therein, lies not just sure 
excuse, but sure excuse to delight in any and every selfish 
endeavor imaginable. Really Mary, one day after delineating for us
how you’re not waiting until tomorrow! and instead are enjoying 
your every pleasure today!, you’re finding some poor sure 
damnation­attracting/drawing sod who’s put together his own 
pastiche of pleasures, to grind to ground. If you’re still finding 
yourself anxious about living life uninhibited by denial, don’t 

594

project and disown your own “sinful” self into some other 
defenceless patsy, to show how much you normally despise 
uninhibited self­indulgence — that’s just cruel; instead, get 
sympathetic treatment, from someone who loves and admires you 
— someone who knows in other things, s/he has a great deal to 
learn from you.
When we’re not all in the mood to seek out and destroy sinful 
people, we might admit that there was something capable and 
compelling about someone successfully making a pastiche of other
people’s works, into a proved winsome whole. He made other 
authors’ contributions into, letters of the alphabet, from which he 
assembled a larger paragraph, chapter, and on. I’d love to see 
movies be made available for artful others to reassemble into 
unique creations — I truly hope we go there.

Permalink

Original Article: The argument against thrift

THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011 08:48 AM PST

Haven’t you known quite a few people who are evidently doing 
well, but if you ask them, will tell you how so much of what they 
earn goes towards paying off afflictions. (To mind instantly, is how
every college professor we seem to hear from at Salon, for 
example, is in some hurry to tell you about their 60 hour work 
weeks, and how they could earn double if they worked in 
business.) My guess is, is that you personally could be gifted in the
future with some huge lottery ticket, and soon enough we’d still 
end up hearing from you about — possibly even your dental work, 
certainly the claiming charities, relatives, and a vast pantry­full of 
other afflictions. You’d never admit that the bulk of your life was 
about self­adventure and living it up. (In our weird culture, getting 

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cancer is only guilt­free way to gift yourself with a bucket list of 
goodies.)
Growth, untainted good things, make so many of us feel anxious, 
exposed, punishment­worthy. When we starting feeling especially 
anxious, we actually want to be involved in something of the like 
of a depression, so there’s no way anyone could point us out and 
suggest we’re not actually mostly cruelly, unfairly burdened.
If dental work and the like wasn’t so easily apprehended by you as 
an affliction, thundered into it to instantly prove how deprived you 
are, you might have added that with these things, too, there is 
adventure — possibilities for self­knowingness, expansion, 
consolidation. What dentist do we choose this time to visit? What 
sort of dental work, service, attendance, might actually be out there
for us? There are so many ways to care for the body, so many 
interesting, different people, to encounter, sort through, and 
experience as we come to the way that works now best for us, why 
not the same with such ostensible simply­drearies as car repairs? 
Maybe, if we have a mind to look, that world has become 
interesting too?

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Original Article: The argument against thrift

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 08:46 PM PST

Continuing to update ourselves, invest in products that represent 
selves we are evolving into, is a very healthy thing — and if most 
people really wanted such, rather than a severe cold spell that 
cancels out “bad” consumeristic habits we probably need 
“rescuing” from, we wouldn’t elect in people all­agreed that what 
we need is austerity. There is some similarity between what this 

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author believes and what Paul Krugman believes; he, Paul 
Krugman, remember, wants the government, at least, to spend, 
spend, spend, and let austerity fully suck it. It’s probably one of the
reasons some people think he’s a baby­boomer douche.

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Original Article: The argument against thrift

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 06:02 PM PST

All adults — not just parents — have a powerful psychological 
urge to put their desires on hold, and that urge makes us receptive 
to the notion that we’d better be saving more and spending less, 
just like all the mainstream economists and reputable journalists 
keep telling us to. We know what will happen to our bank 
accounts, our waistlines and our marriage vows if we stop listening
to their insistent voice of reason.
Even so, we’ve reached the point where we have to confront our 
fears about consumer culture, because the renunciation of desire, 
the deferral of gratification, saving for a rainy day — call it what 
you want — has become dangerous to our health.
This powerful psychological urge was not much in evidence these 
last fifty years; however, you’re right that many, many people (but 
not all) are ruled by it. Its origins lie in our relationship with our 
parents, who, owing to the fact that much our purpose was to 
somehow satisfy and attend to their own unmet needs, felt drawn 
to and did threaten us with abandonment and the like when we first
sought out a world of acquisitions, all our own. This scare is for 
the child so profound that it alone is responsible for the 
development of the superego, or if you will, the parental alter, most
everyone of possess, and which usefully wards away from too 

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much “spoiling” ourselves in life, for fear of re­experiencing that 
worst of all possible human experiences (to the child, parental 
abandonment means annihilation, oblivion: that which cannot, 
above all other things, be re­experienced).
After (Depression and WW2 sacrifice­permitted) 30 years of 
unambiguous growth (1950s to end of ’70s), and twenty years of 
manic growth, the parental alters in most of us are speaking hugely
loudly, warning us that Oblivion is coming unless we terminate all 
growth, right friggin’ now. The Depression, we guess, ought to do 
it; and it will do it, endangering our health of course — part of 
what it is supposed to do, to show our commitment now to 
selflessness, to the very point of no­end­in­sight suffering — but 
alleviating us of the felt sense that a greater Oblivion is past 
zeroing in on us and begun to head our way.
You’re right about economics. Enjoyed your piece. Hope there are 
plenty more people like you out there. If not, and if you’ll excuse 
me, rather than a bounty of gifts, I’ll make THAT my selfish, 
selfish Christmas wish!

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Original Article: This is our new normal

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 03:13 PM PST

Also fun! Thank you.

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Original Article: This is our new normal

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 03:12 PM PST

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Fun! Thank you.

Permalink

Original Article: Why is Hollywood still 

terrified of abortion?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 03:05 PM PST

What I appreciate so much about post­war feminists is that they 
made personal realization such an important thing. This isn’t a cut 
— the realized, the happy woman, is living the life LIFE, in my 
judgment, is about — beautifully stretching out for others the 
realm of the possible; plus, when they raise a child, for having not 
denied themselves, for claiming some of the love that had cruelly 
been absent, they’ll genuinely do better for their very important 
kids as well.
Abortion is a tricky thing. Rightwingers who now are so against it, 
for it bespeaking female realization and their life outside the 
containing home, could be all of a sudden for it, if it ends up 
meaning saving the world from “useless eaters.” Watch for it; they 
(rightwingers) are identified most for their hatred of life; their 
particular stance, is adaptable, actually entirely reversible.

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Original Article: This is our new normal

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 02:55 PM PST

The capitalist system failed, then, and will go down to defeat 
amidst good­style socialist reform. Despite 30 years of failing 
schools, parents more and more away from home, every personal 

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problem treated impersonally with drugs, cold consumer culture, 
everywhere, a generation was nevertheless formed so full of 
goodness and energy, only the unattuned would mistake them as, 
really, essentially denied; zombie­like.

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Original Article: Why is Hollywood still 

terrified of abortion?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 01:34 PM PST

It’s true, women who keep their babies are being made to seem 
pure, THEMSELVES keepable; those who abort them, creatures, 
harlots, diseased — aliens. And it’s clearly not just winning over 
the rightwingers.




Original Article: This is our new normal
WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 01:18 PM PST

Drained. As if as much at the end of a long, weary journey, as 
beginning a new one. Unlike the ’60s, vitality didn’t give birth to 
them.

Permalink

Original Article: Who's making a killing off 

student loans?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 01:15 PM PST

They’ve been lied to by everyone they trust, and when they rage 

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and despair, they’re gleefully hated upon as spoiled and pampered 
— as ONLY NOW about to know what real pain is.
Sometimes a whole generation is set up for sacrifice, so to abate 
the anxiety previous ones had about their own life gains. The first 
world war, for instance, was once such horrible moment. Stick it 
out, kids. You don’t have that many friends, but if you find way 
not to readily sacrifice yourselves in order to feel good for fully 
submitting to elders’ needs of you, we’re not as bloodthirsty as we 
were back then. Recognize our sick needs; only pretend to give in 
to them; and know you very much CAN outlast us. They’ll be fun 
toys along the way, too — the ’30s had jazz, swing, and Citizen 
(friggin’) Kane!

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Original Article: This is our new normal

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 01:02 PM PST

Capitalism hasn’t looked good for 30 years, and it’s certainly no 
ideal. But as a socialist, I’ll maintain that the communism that we 
are likely to see emerging over the next ten to fifteen years, will 
be, unfortunately, Soviet­style once again. That is, for true serfs, 
those without distinction or personality, witness the kind of dead 
populace we’ll soon start applauding for their noble selflessness. 
We’re already seeing it; todays liberal youth, enjoying becoming 
part of the nameless, leaderless, washed out OWS’ lot. 
Understandable, but sad.

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Original Article: Why is Hollywood still 

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terrified of abortion?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 12:42 PM PST

Gotcha; and I agree.

Permalink

Original Article: This is our new normal

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 12:38 PM PST

The ’50s to ’70s followed a long depression and a world war — 
people felt permitted a huge period of growth after that “heroic” 
sacrifice, and that’s why they got it. The ONLY reason we’re all 
about to go through another stupid period of, not just oligarchy, but
of hatred towards anything that doesn’t smack of personality­
abatement and self­sacrifice, is because we feel such is necessary 
to forgo some kind of even worse punishment, which would surely 
visit us if we kept on arrogantly growing, defining ourselves — 
special snowflake style — and otherwise “misbehaving.”
So my guess is that it’ll be like the last Depression; we’ll have to 
wait out about 7 or 8 years of complete stiflement, then there will 
be a moment where we begin to pull ourselves out, followed by 
another immediate squashing; then we’ll probably collectively 
“arrange” another world war to happen in which to sacrifice a good
number of our youth — representatives of our guilty ambitious, 
striving selfves — in, and, penance fully paid, we’ll get another 
stretch of 30 years of unambiguously great growth again.
Hopefully most of us prove to have staying power, and when 
wonderful, presumptuous, youthful progressives are once again 
permitted to reign, they’ll find a way to mostly abate this 
horrifying cycle.

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Permalink

Original Article: Why is Hollywood still 

terrified of abortion?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 12:20 PM PST

Re: “She clearly seems like a pretty sick puppy, and has always 
had a streak of self­loathing a mile wide.” As such means she’s not
likely to REALLY claim much for herself in life, I think many 
young people will find her admirable, in this sacrifice­yourself­
and­you’re­the­good­girl times.

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Original Article: Why is Hollywood still 

terrified of abortion?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 11:23 AM PST

Abortion is associated with independence, freedom — with 
presumption — and so it is no surprise that we are being greeted 
with women prepared to use their babies to show how prepared 
they are to sacrifice ambition and distinction, and become the likes 
of a responsible but bland and thereafter inconsequent breeder, 
during an era where this sort of self­sacrifice means escaping 
damnation as grotesquely selfish, spoiled, and undefeated. It’s not 
the flapper 20s, wonderfully giving Victorian tea­tottlers the bird; 
it’s the depressed ’30s, where Mother once again rules the family, 
and has us all under wraps.

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Original Article: Is childhood obesity abusive?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 09:52 AM PST

Beans, Laurel WAS right to encourage you understand that your 
diet — which is rather similar to my own — is a very bland thing 
to inflict on everyone else. I grew up on sugarless cereal and skim 
milk — beans, whole grains, and greens I could — still with 
considerable regret — do mostly wholesale when necessity called. 
Others are at some level very, very right to go for their cheeses and
fat­loaded sundaes, second and third helpings, and tell momma’s 
boy Jamie Oliver to bugger off.
It’s the problem with the no­fat people I in many ways respect. 
They’re the type to lament that the Dutch, who when isolated 
during WW2 had to forgo their fatty diet of cheeses etc. and 
indulged more in greens instead, mostly left their greens and beans 
diet behind them after the war. That is, when the Dutch went back 
to being opulent and life­enjoying, rather than starved and isolated,
they were such that lead no­fat­dieters, overall, actually lamented 
their ostensible regression.

Permalink

Original Article: Who's making a killing off 

student loans?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 08:48 AM PST

The question is rather, what chance have these kids got, when their
own PARENTS morbidly actually want a system which gives them
no chance. Deep in our most regressed past, we were of cultures 
that practiced infanticide. It’s not, unfortunately, fully yet out of 
our systems.

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Original Article: Who's making a killing off 

student loans?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 08:31 AM PST

There are times when people intuit the ethos is switching 
from sort­of demos to completely patrician / plebian. We’re 
entering into one such time — 1 % constitutionally different 
patricians, 99 % personalityless noble sufferers (the public 
aggressively wants it this way — now is the time for them to 
show how virtuous they are for largely suffering away a 
decade or two of their lives). I hope some in this debate 
pointed out that probably the number one reason to get into 
(the likes of) Brown, owes now more to your wanting to look
like you could score the leisurely gentleman’s B, than your 
ability to match the work ethic and competency of any asian.
Original Article: Why no one's talking about 

Newt's weight

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 08:13 AM PST

I don’t think so. He manifestly represents the institution; as such, 
as someone more important’s puppet, it gives him latitude: he 
could be as big as a truck, and somehow the institution’s “pin 
stripes” would work to thin him. Christie’s on his own, and so 
we’re more likely to take into account all that he’s presuming to 
bring up to the table.

Permalink

Original Article: Why no one's talking about 

Newt's weight

605

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 07:58 AM PST

Newt COULD be as fat as Christie, and you’re right, it still 
wouldn’t be as commented on. Newt is more part of an institution, 
so it seems not so much about him, but rather the large edifice he’s
foldest himself amongst. Christie’s on his own, so we look only at 
him, and his busting­out gut.

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Original Article: Who needs a bucket list?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 30, 2011 07:45 AM PST

You hear the word “pegged,” and think dildos (wink, wink) and 
porn common usage. You think of those with problems with their 
baby­boomer parents, and think — the irresponsible of your 
generation! When you see poetic language in use, you brag about 
your plainness, and suggest the other is likely autistic. When you 
encounter someone evidently different than yourself, you think, 
“first off–,” and then supply “helpful” correction.
How sure are you that you aren’t a geek / pervert, a parent­pleasing
“good boy,” or a bore?

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Original Article: Why my small bookstore 

matters

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 12:34 PM PST

Credibility doesn’t lie in directing more and more people to little 
bookstores, because THAT is the direction they’re actually headed,
and Indy bookstores are — as this astute poster suggests — now 

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going to enclaves of boutiqueness, tight, smart “intelligences” that 
give their frequenters some sense they’re surely empowered 
against the unscrutable, insane, everywhere masses.

Permalink

Original Article: Wall Street, take our children!

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 11:39 AM PST

Wall Street wouldn’t have been permitted to eat our children, 
unless the larger public actually wanted it to. Children aptly 
represent our own striving selves, our own desire to live lives that 
are uninhibited in what might be accomplished. Unfortunately, few
have been raised to escape at some very deep, profound level 
thinking this desire ultimately horribly selfish, and so when we 
NONETHELESS acquire good things for ourselves in life, we 
JUST HAVE TO MAKE SURE society offers up apt replacements
to suffer the fate we ourselves believe WE deserve for our own 
guilt­arousing life gains. Our literate, liberal culture (even) is 
finding everyway now to (please God!) GUILT­FREE publically 
visualize the hurting, the humbling, the humiliation of children. 
IT’S ALL ostensibly being done to show how much they actually 
DO care, to show evil others up — but that’s not really why it’s 
being done: not a liberal now who talks of eating, hurting, 
maiming children isn’t pleased we’ve got a culture very 
successfully doing just that, and will, how so delightfully!, 
continue on and on doing the same. After all, they’re the ones 
who’ve benefited the most — it just can’t be made not obvious, 
despite the evils of Wall Street, and their own support for humane, 
green, utopic urban development and born­again little community 
bookstores — and everywhere about them the angry Depression’ 
voice of disapproval sounds.

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Permalink

Original Article: Who needs a bucket list?

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 11:02 AM PST

In this age, if you get pegged, you’re dead. Best to leave some 
suppleness, for maneuverability sakes.

Permalink

Original Article: Will 2012 be a replay of 1968?

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 10:10 AM PST

The OWSers are not just the young, either, but it is important to 
note that that is now how the movement has been essentialized — 
as a burden­loaded, bitterly angry and desperate, youth movement. 
I argue that not only will it thereby right now not gather huge 
sympathy, but actually draw antipathy for visually manifesting all 
the distress, fear, and aloneness, that others feel in themselves but 
need expressed in other people, so it can be punished, but as an 
outsider, and thereby fully denied. Hurting young people is the best
way to show how apologetic you are now for your own spoiled life
acquisitions. In hurting them, you’re letting the part of you that 
urged you on to growth know you just how much you despise it, to
the great pleasure of our id­hating superegos, “who,” in this 
depression, have seized hold of the reigns as surely as “all­stick” 
Quaritch did at the end of “Avatar.”

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Original Article: Who needs a bucket list?

608

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 09:53 AM PST

If you weren’t on the five­year “list,” it’s likely you’ be doing 
much of the same, though. Culture has crested — the baby 
boomers have willed it so. It’s time to revisit, indulge in known 
pleasures, knowing that the only thing new, but still comfortably 
away away, in the horizon, is the doom of discord, crazed 
agitations and enthusiasms, and war trumpets. It feels like end of 
times — the new on the scene don’t seem so much of the sort to 
want to communicate — and the freedom granted in this will draw,
is drawing, many to indulge in familiar joys, and suppress the 
agitating arrival of the also genuinely worthy but UNFAMILIAR, 
not “your own,” who’d dare enter to disquiet this lovely collective 
swan­song mood.

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Original Article: Will 2012 be a replay of 1968?

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 08:52 AM PST

Obama’s best hope is if people see Occupy Wall Streeters as a 
bunch of students loaded down with student loans — ’cause people
hate them. The ’50s/’60s/’70s were going to be about youth, about 
youthfulness, because the Depression and WW2 were about the 
denial and sacrifice of all that. Now that we’ve hate our long 
period of, first, unamibuously good growth, and, second, equally 
long period of manic growth, we’re into Depression mode once 
again, which is about the hatred of all things young and promising. 
It does these very vulnerable youth a great misservice to have them
thinking it might be the ’60s come again; it isn’t — for the most 
part, OWSers are helping ESSENTIALIZE themselves as spoiled 
and yet still disgruntled, for the rest of the public to BEGIN their 
picking on. If they end up looking mostly outed, cold, and without 
hope, the public will keep voting in those properly giving them 

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their due, grafting upon them all the miseries and insecurities the 
rest of the public wants denied in themselves.

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Original Article: Support your indie bookstore!

TUESDAY, NOV 29, 2011 07:40 AM PST

Patrick Macabre­Halston here, Aunt Messy, and I’m not whining, 
I’m helping. Independent bookstores are coming back again, and it 
will owe to the purchasing decisions of the liberal elite. They’ll 
think their support of them means they’re for the small guy, that 
they, wierdly, ARE the small guy, but it really owes to them 
having an opportunity to this time claim small bookstores as all 
their own, as a kind of boutique, that actually mostly distinguishes 
them from the mongrolized plurality of the 99 %. What better way 
for the enfranchised to support the 99 % than in a way which 
continues their loathing and fretting them?



Original Article: Support your indie bookstore!
MONDAY, NOV 28, 2011 08:52 AM PST

Independent bookstores are coming back, but not as beloved 
neighborhood staples, folky stuff. They’ll be brutal class­
demarcators, thriving boutiques, where those of refined, patrician 
taste go to assure themselves they have little to do with the 
mongrel 99 % (and to keep taste alive!), and which the alienated 
99 % wish to keep alive, too, to keep some remote glamor amidst 
their wasted debased world. Small havens of otherwise disallowed 
personality, just like the ’30s.

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Original Article: How should we design the 

cities of our dreams?

SUNDAY, NOV 27, 2011 10:25 AM PST

Re: “And there’s reason to be optimistic that they will, because the
generation that will retrofit our old cities with new ideas is the 
same one that’s currently developing an instinctual aversion to 
economic unfairness.”
It won’t be a generation that’s going to do it — it’ll be foremost 
from the children of the endowed right now — each one of them 
very much green, poor­concerned, but also so very different in 
manners from the 99% that their class­concerned parents don’t find
themselves not entirely enthused about them. They are princes and 
princesses who’ve been denied the core stuff to break through 
instinctual aversions to be all for the people; what we can expect 
from them is everything so that the well­entrenched will never not 
really know themselves as aristocracy­loving aristocrats. In every 
green­guilded urban landscape, they’ll see the patrician easyness of
their power, and it’ll actually be mostly that that pleases than what 
they tell everybody, including themselves, it communicates — 
their ostensible democratic core.
This article is about how the 1% will never recognize themselves. 
It is time, once again, for patricians.

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Original Article: How gossip took over the news

SUNDAY, NOV 27, 2011 09:56 AM PST

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Why is it when one reads this article that one senses Oxford’s 
walls firming up and getting stronger? It feels almost as if what we
need most, now, is for institutions to do their duty, the press to 
sober up and leave them alone, and for the public to let themselves 
be lead.

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Original Article: Is Don DeLillo really 

prescient?

SUNDAY, NOV 27, 2011 09:45 AM PST

If this author really meant to bring up DeLillo’s truly prescient 
point (about the two towers), one wonders why he didn’t in fact 
mention it. What this author does do, however, is argue that Delillo
has a morbid and paranoid point of view, that he should be seen as 
retrofiting his vision to whatever grand tragedy or moment of 
social dysfunction comes along, and whose tendency is to use his 
characters as simple conduits for his own wrong­headed 
mouthings. It is hard to see how even the greatest genius could 
from this bleeck make the climb up to deserving to be a major 
writer; it certainly seems the stuff for what an ostensibly more sane
generation would recognize as a con, a hack.
To me, though, if I want to find myself more dispirited, I’d turn to 
more of John Williams’ works way before I’d Delillo’s.

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Original Article: The dilemma of taking care of 

elderly parents

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SUNDAY, NOV 27, 2011 08:57 AM PST

The author has explained how in America, children and parents 
love one another — the generation of baby boomers who gave 
their parents the bird when they left the nest, clearly never existed; 
the plentitude of popular movies and books that showed us such, 
clearly were all lies — so you clearly don’t exist. But if you DID 
exist, she has also explained how the situation would be fully 
upside­downy, so guaranteed YOU would get to be the person who
beats the hell out of your parent; though, I must admit, what I think
baby boomers are concerned about is that this upside­downy 
situation is more illusory than real, more their own parents 
temporarily making themselves seem so harmless so the truer 
situation that all the old feelings of when “you” were fully under 
their thumb don’t flood so strongly into view you somehow 
DON’T acquiese and find a way to home them with you.
Twenty years ago, the situation would have been different, because
it was still a youth culture. Now, with crammed living quarters 
rather than nuclear suburb castles the expected norm, with self­
sacrifice/sublimation rather than self­satisfaction/realization the 
commanding ethos, with the Depression feeling as penance for 
baby boomer’ greed — it’s going to put grandma and grandpa back
in the limelight. Give up the master bedroom now, folks — the old 
kings and queens have returned.

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Original Article: The dilemma of taking care of 

elderly parents

SATURDAY, NOV 26, 2011 05:35 PM PST

If extended families once again proves the trick, we’ll have to 
come up with something else before long: ’cause at some point the 

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diaper­changers are going to find some gigantic war that they just 
HAVE TO partake in, to give them some period of guaranteed 
relief from domestic crap.

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Original Article: The dilemma of taking care of 

elderly parents

SATURDAY, NOV 26, 2011 01:50 PM PST

How can you be sure that “no one wants to ignore parental needs,” 
when you’re also so sure they’re all precariously perched “I love 
my parents, but–”ers? It just seems more reasonable to me to leave 
plenty of room for seeing some of those leaning heavily on the 
“but,” as actually at some level more hoping to rid themselves of 
their parents than further attend to them. Does matricide and 
patricide exist only at the same level as whiter unicorns and 
fairies? One would have “matricidical” fantasies, not so much 
matricidal ones; or maybe better, “dark, unicornal, magimatridical”
fantasies, just so no one gets confused.

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Original Article: Neil Gaiman's audiobook 

record label

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 03:16 PM PST

Gaiman is the most non­aggrieving guy on the planet. At a time 
when we are prepared to communicate hard that that is the only 
“voice” we’ll tolerate, it’s no wonder he’s been annointed. What 
we need from the British now is another John Cleese: that guy 
could teach Americans some about what it is to be taken into 

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account.

Permalink

Original Article: Should liberals be more 

thankful for Obama?

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 12:47 PM PST

What Chris Matthews didn’t catch, but Joan seemed to a bit, is a 
certain edge in Chait — he’s not so much making a point, as 
beginning a pointed indictment. Chris bear­hugged him with love 
and admiration, and though it obscured most everything else from 
view, I still did see the circumspect little guy, not quite plussed, 
with his pointy knife still sticking out.

Permalink

Original Article: The geeky triumph of Pepper 

Spray Cop

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 10:07 AM PST

It has helped cement the idea that overt disobedience is a youthful 
stance, at a time when the nation is in mind to project its own 
selfishness, desire for more, into this most appropriate of 
“containers,” to deny and punish, is in mind to see a lineup of 
youth being victimized and find it a “phallanx,” an image actually 
a bit compelling for its homoeroticism — frontline soldiers, the 
youngest and the bravest, giving themselves up for expedient 
slaughter, the whatever wishes of their desirous elders.


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Original Article: The geeky triumph of Pepper 

Spray Cop

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 08:57 AM PST

That’s funny.

Permalink

Original Article: The geeky triumph of Pepper 

Spray Cop

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 08:38 AM PST

There was a time when nazi concentration camp guards weren’t so 
fugitive. Maybe we’re more entering there than the part you’re 
skipping ahead to?
This officer is going to be publicly condemned, but maybe because
he’s a couple steps too far from where people are prepared to go 
right now. So instead many ways to keep him in view, ostensibly 
of course for our villification, but maybe actually more for 
purposes of consideration.

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Original Article: The geeky triumph of Pepper 

Spray Cop

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 08:30 AM PST

The South had hillbillies and rednecks with guns, the North had 
shopkeepers and respectability. Who ultimately proved malleable 
and carpeted upon? Historically, what is most notable about 
warrior cultures is that they tend to be of the kind that pretty much 

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throw themselves upon their opponents’ bayonets. They aim so 
hard to be sadistic, but submit at the end so enthusiastically to 
masochistic submission — their God likes nothing better than a 
large field of their own boys lying dead, in dutiful, noble sacrifice. 
Ours laments the insanity, and moves on.

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Original Article: The geeky triumph of Pepper 

Spray Cop

WEDNESDAY, NOV 23, 2011 07:38 AM PST

He’s a meme in part because, I suspect, many people are impressed
with his imperturbality, in face of struggling “children.” Near 
every Republican would want to be like him, and many, many 
liberals too — like a good portion of those who applauded Obama 
so loudly for remaining serene and adult while Republican / Tea 
Partiers went about like spoiled children, or even those who 
applauded that “Go the @#!# to Sleep” book, where, faced with 
screaming children, adults imagine laughing in response at them, at
giving them the bird.
This isn’t the ’60s, where youth, after a withering Great 
Depression and the mass sacrifice of a world war, were going to be
allowed to define and rule the world for a longish while. This is 
end of cycle, where more and more people are going to get a kick 
out of adults acting like stern, disapproving “grandfathers,” who 
are unsparingly brutal toward acting­up children.

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Original Article: The face of police cruelty

SUNDAY, NOV 20, 2011 10:26 AM PST

Or it might nudge them into complicit self­sacrifice. We have done
everything possible to make youth feel they are not to be valued in 
this society, and I suspect many have internalized the attitude. 
Putting yourself in the way of police who WILL hurt you would 
surely provide even greater satisfaction than self­cutters get by 
their means of punishing their own wretched youthfulness.
When a whole nation of youth launches themselves into war, it has
a great deal to do with the joyful feeling they get from knowing 
they’re commiting the sacrifice their nation eagerly desires of them
— finally, now, they’re incontrovertably virtuous good boys and 
girls.

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Original Article: The coming out story I never 

thought I'd write

WEDNESDAY, NOV 16, 2011 11:31 PM PST

I’m delineating the way ahead. The new left I’m describing, the 
one that will increasingly identify with the working class, is a 
vastly regressed left. It will turn on groups the previous lot had 
spent so much time loving and supporting.

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Original Article: The coming out story I never 

thought I'd write

WEDNESDAY, NOV 16, 2011 11:43 AM PST

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I wonder how much the urge to come out right now owes to a 
sense that we’re at the climax of a cultural age, one that is in the 
process of changing wholesale. The previous liberal period was 
about enfranchising the kinds of groups middle America tended to 
discriminate against; the current one is one that will mostly 
identify with the middle, with the American “volk.” For the 
previous lot (of liberals), with no growth ahead, no more truth to 
be discovered, it’s about daily finding a way to triumph your fully 
realized self — Newt=bad, Salon=good, kind of stuff. In the 
meantime the new left composes itself, and then eventually 
launches a wholesale attack on the “boutique liberals” (Chris 
Hedges’ term) who (very much ostensibly!) represent the kind of 
me­centered self­decadence that brought down to such a sad low, a
once hardy, once manly, robust working­class nation.

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Original Article: The coming out story I never 

thought I'd write

WEDNESDAY, NOV 16, 2011 11:27 AM PST

Well, I disagree — but I’d be with you if you were to argue that 
few who share my opinion mean homosexuals any good. They 
pretend to help, but they mean to eviscerate.
I find it difficult to believe you’re actually FOR educated 
psychobabble. And some sympathy, please — the same kinds of 
people who hate on gay men tend to hate on the Jewish science, 
psychoanalysis, as well. To them, it’s all signs of a society gone 
fully decadent and retrograde.

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Original Article: The coming out story I never 

thought I'd write

WEDNESDAY, NOV 16, 2011 11:20 AM PST

He was built to please — as such he was the perfect candidate for 
homosexuality.

Permalink

Original Article: The coming out story I never 

thought I'd write

WEDNESDAY, NOV 16, 2011 07:39 AM PST

Boys turn gay to safeguard them from feeling fully absorbed 
within their mothers’ needs. Because they were cued early on that 
they near existed to please their insufficiently loved mothers, 
they’re highly sensitive, and it is partly this which draws them to 
Salon. It is ALSO that people like Walsh and MEW remind them 
in part of their mothers, and this is still natural­enough and 
drawing company. It is ALSO that Salon registers as a site that is 
sensitive to not too much offend, make anxious, their readers — if 
it stirs things up, we all sense it’ll hurry along to fully calm down 
the stirred waters and nestle simply agreement for a good 
subsequent bit: such an environment is comfortable for gay men, 
who learned from the start of their lives that the one thing above all
others that you do not do, is make mom in any way anxious.

Original Article: The coming out story I never 

thought I'd write

WEDNESDAY, NOV 16, 2011 07:14 AM PST

You’re right, the all­American kid enjoys sports but doesn’t have a

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lesbian for a mother. If he simply had too much mother — as 
you’re insinuating — then his conclusive turning toward men is 
largely a turning his back on her: it doesn’t cement their bond, but 
the opposite, making them safely askew, securely delineated, from 
one­another. The original, the primary fag hag will only get so 
much out of him in the future: I wonder how much it is this 
wonderful safety that is celebrated with coming out?

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Original Article: On the eve of destruction

MONDAY, NOV 14, 2011 03:41 PM PST

They lost public support owing to a collective desire to image them
spoiled brats. “You” let them air out your own distress, and then 
disown them, indulging in another long term of suffering before a 
movement arises that is uncomplicated by the expectations — we, 
REALLY, deserve better than this — of the very best (not saying, 
of course, that these are its only constituents, but that they are 
surely amongst them — it’s so rancid now that no matter your 
[commendable] appreciation of ongoing discourse and society’s 
ability to right itself you should find yourself assessing it all as a 
choice away from possible salvation).

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Original Article: On the eve of destruction

MONDAY, NOV 14, 2011 03:15 PM PST

A lot of liberals have done some inner calculations and decided 
they’re not going to lose much if they stay mostly status quo and 
let the next twenty years be a total horror for most other people — 

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they’ll feel guilty; but this affliction will actually satisfy in 
showing they’re not completely living it. They’re not evil, but just 
not healthy enough to find little satisfaction when a spectre of 
doom has decided it’ll pass them by. If Joan makes the rest of her 
life about preventing the next twenty from being about huge 
widespread misery and eventual grand sacrifice through world war 
(the usual way it goes when our collective concern is suddenly to 
purge out all badness), it’ll owe to support from grand friends like 
Chris Matthews. If people like Joan and Chris balk completely out 
of their familiar “discourse,” to me, at least, imagining many 
people like them doing the same, imagining all of them as akin in 
inner resources as they, the future will suddently seem — open. 
Note: they’ll lose all their friends, though — there’s only a couple 
people I can think of at Salon that will stand completely with Joan, 
and believe it or not, neither is Glenn. If subliminally sensing all 
this, if you were her, wouldn’t you find yourself doing re­check 
after re­check?

Permalink

Original Article: If Tolkien were black

WEDNESDAY, NOV 9, 2011 02:35 PM PST

Updike has been accused of something of the same (by Bloom, for 
instance), i.e., possessed of great gifts, but lacking something most 
meaningful. Personally, I think it’s that both he and Anthony focus
mostly on the domestic, see the worthy play and adventure there, 
that scares away people taken aback by too much hearth. I really 
do find Anthony’s creativity of a near wholly different kind from 
so many fantasy authors, who’s invention always ends up reeking 
to me of compensense. This is less true for almost all writers in the
genre during the 70s, of course, when you didn’t have to have all 
that much inner fire to have the age propel you on to quite new 

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things (LeGuin’s in there, for sure). His style is pronounced, 
mostly without hedge. Uncircumcized. He really is the closes 
writer I can think to Updike, much more than the Delillos, Oates, 
and all them.

Permalink

Original Article: If Tolkien were black

WEDNESDAY, NOV 9, 2011 01:11 PM PST

It’s tough to tell right now how genuine people are being when 
they cite Ursula LeGuin as their primary influence. She’s the pre­
eminant fantasy writer to cite if you don’t want to collect around 
you any (or at least, the least amount possible) consideration as a 
geek. None of the others lit people mention quite gift the same. 
Personally, I wish more would cite and actually be influenced by 
Piers Anthony. He’s fantasy’s John Updike, its boldest, least 
cowed, ACTUALLY least geeky, adventurer. If you see all that but
still think him a dork, something about the whole genre must sadly 
play to that part of us that actually never really wants to go outside 
our door.

Permalink

Original Article: Was Shakespeare really 

Shakespeare?

THURSDAY, OCT 27, 2011 03:42 PM PDT

Right now, you’re either part of the 99%, or part of the ruling 
class. The Depression lost sight of the middle classes (they 
certainly existed, but they didn’t fit the times’ “dynamic” so were 
ignored in popular imagination), and so too we. This is why the 

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consideration of Shakespeare as an aristocrat is having its day.

Permalink

Original Article: Democrats can't occupy Wall 

Street

TUESDAY, OCT 11, 2011 09:11 AM PDT

One of the greatest things about gross inequality, is that you don’t 
need to listen to those who well may be able tell you how to live a 
little better, with their more than likely coming from a class 
absurdly elevated beyond your own. You can remain stuck in a 
class that is suffering, but that has also decided, unlike the ’60s and
’70s, that it might be femme manners of them if they learned to 
love cooking french. Many mainstream democrats are going to try 
very hard to become populists (the new Salon, anyone?). If they 
can’t get in, it’s ’cause of our own walling them out.

Permalink

Original Article: Democrats can't occupy Wall 

Street

TUESDAY, OCT 11, 2011 08:29 AM PDT

By this, “by demonizing the elements of modern American 
working­class life, from SUVs and low­price exurban box stores to
the kinds of cuisine that upscale foodies frown upon,” are you sure 
don’t just mean talking accurately about them? SUVs are 
deplorable. The box stores, just as bad. What they eat — a strong 
sign that humans can let themselves live with their more important 
part of their brains inactive. Liberal elites are going to get it 
because they are a reminder that we can ask for more out of life 

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than this; expect it, even. They’ll be replaced by populists the 
masses will want to listen to, who’ll tell them Jamie Oliver­style 
how they have to stop driving SUVs and stuffing their faces with 
fatty foods, but not to go for something more refined, but 
something more deprived.

Permalink

Original Article: Unions, Democrats and 

Occupy Wall Street

WEDNESDAY, OCT 5, 2011 09:13 PM PDT

It was inevitable, and thus they didn’t so much make it as failed to 
prevent it. Every generation that begins by leading a society 
beyond whereever it had previously permitted itself, that is allowed
to lead it, because a society has decided for a time that innovation, 
overall improvement, is permitted, has been earned, ends up at 
some point pulling back: not only does the rest of society begin to 
feel untethered over all this hubristic innovation (a society that 
rises all boats–my word!), but many of the left that lead the good 
things begin to as well. The pivotal overall psychic change 
occurred at the end of the 1970s, when the masses moved things so
that growth would largely be something denied them. In sum, the 
spoiled baby­boomers that came to focus on consumerism and 
themselves, were very likely the best generation humanity has ever
seen. We get to be the lot that sees what­is­in­truth fleshed­out 
personalities, and rather than accomplishment see self­indulgence, 
blameworthy self­attendance and other neglect.

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Original Article: Unions, Democrats and 

Occupy Wall Street

WEDNESDAY, OCT 5, 2011 09:42 AM PDT

The New Deal didn’t arise out of a fear of unrest. Social 
improvements came out of the masses feeling they were owed 
something, for very clearly having already suffered so much. 
Social justice isn’t just handed to us, not because it HAS to come 
from a fight (with many sad losses sustained), but because we 
don’t think we deserve it if it comes too readily. (Twice a century 
it seems people become more comfortable with allowance and 
permission; otherwise we’re very suspicious of the mass of us 
living beyond what we thought possible.) That’s the ONLY reason.
Also, the spoiled dangerous kids of the ’60s–won. America largely 
came to understand the Americans who saw them as deserving 
punishment, as older, regressive, primitive Archie­Bunker types, 
who not only hated the kids, but blacks and homosexuals and 
immigrants and uppity women as well, and effectively represented 
everything the ’60s generation had to oppose to finally give some 
sanity to America. The haters had their moment to freely express 
their absolute hate, but it might as well been a lure, for it served to 
move the youth into positions of considerable influence and power,
and doomed them into constantly being on the defense.
The ’60s youth were emblematic of what was right with the 
country — it was going to be a time for youth, for romanticism. 
Unfortunately, our current lot is for many of us a sign of what is 
right about it now too: we’ve entered a time where you have to be 
delusional to see the young as at all over­indulged or spoiled. If 
they start getting the things they ask for, it’ll owe to us gauging 
they’re so sufficiently broken what they want won’t be so out of 
line of the reduced way of experiencing the world we expect out of
them. Having your debts paid off and having some sort of job, 

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needn’t mean you’re on your way to becoming fully human. You 
could just be a New Deal/Soviet working ant, no different from the
rest of the thriving but pointless collective.

Permalink


Original Article: Why American novelists don't 

deserve the Nobel Prize

TUESDAY, OCT 4, 2011 09:03 AM PDT

With how much their damn presumption and spoiledness clearly 
bothers us, I think it fair for us all to take a pause and consider that 
even if they really were/are great, we might not be the ones to ever 
accord them this.
Perhaps to be great, you have to focus one heck of a lot on oneself 
— that is, perhaps you have to become one whom a later, more 
shrunken generation, who has schooled themselves into believing 
their own egoistic desires make them bad, and is determined to see 
any they see rising in others gets retracted and punished as well, 
will see as simply too self­attendant and spoiled?
What we want, apparently, what clearly makes us sick, is for artists
to partake in the collective, to be somewhat bland and non­
descript, and to do without blinking what we would have them.

Permalink

Original Article: Why American novelists don't 

deserve the Nobel Prize

MONDAY, OCT 3, 2011 06:53 PM PDT

They may not know as much about suffering — or it may be that 

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they actually know quite a bit but aren’t as DETERMINED by it 
— but they surely know more about allowance and play, and not 
playing out their lives as others would have of them. Guess we 
differ on where we think invention and creativity come from, 
perhaps owing to our different take on how much fun people 
should allow themselves.

Permalink

Original Article: Why American novelists don't 

deserve the Nobel Prize

MONDAY, OCT 3, 2011 06:24 PM PDT

If I could give a nobel to one American horror writer, it would be 
to Stephen King. If to one fantasy writer, to Piers Anthony; and 
one SciFi — Wolfe. All, I think, could be called indulgent, but 
they are the ones who’ll change mankind for the better, while 
letting everyone know it’s more than okay to complement your full
belly with some after­dinner ice cream, some sherry or rum. I don’t
think we’ll see their equals for a couple generations, but we’ll get 
lots of on­message revels in grit, by authors who are teaching 
themselves they’ve never known anything other.

Permalink

Original Article: Why American novelists don't 

deserve the Nobel Prize

MONDAY, OCT 3, 2011 05:41 PM PDT

Rated!

Permalink

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Original Article: Why American novelists don't 

deserve the Nobel Prize

MONDAY, OCT 3, 2011 05:38 PM PDT

The 1930s turned hard against self­centeredness and spoiledness 
too. Fortunately, after they were allowed their unfortunately 
longish turn at haranguing everyone into good behavior and 
championing post­office art, the nation eventually returned to good
sense, and spoiled brats had their indulgent turn again (Yay 
Updike’s “Couples”!). I’m encountering good numbers trying to 
turn us all against Updike — the best of American writers; most 
fun. Please allow yourself to counter Wallace’s “evisceration” of 
Updike’s “Toward the End of Time” with Margaret Atwood’s take 
on the book. She’s the grown­up; Wallace has proved just a self­
lacerator we’ve made now mostly into a whip.

Permalink

Original Article: The creative class is a lie

SATURDAY, OCT 1, 2011 12:35 PM PDT

The last big depression also suppressed the individual power of the
actor — we got the factory system, and replacable, nervous talent. 
25 years after this began was about the time the factory system fell 
apart, so I’m guessing you’re probably here speaking accurately 
only about our immediate future. In my judgment, the problem 
now with the digital revolution, which was NOT true when it 
began, is that it is no longer supported by a collective will to make 
it generally empowering. If we’re in the mood to see the previously
“spoiled” thoroughly demoralized, left only with flowers and 
bonbons we’d find their use as instruments of humiliation. Such is 

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our mood now.

Permalink

Original Article: The creative class is a lie

SATURDAY, OCT 1, 2011 11:45 AM PDT

The whole point of a depression is to suppress creativity and 
individuality — a depression is the penance for previous good 
times. Pointing out its effectiveness in doing so may not even be a 
lament — what good things we allow ourselves now need to be 
better camouflaged as compromised pleasures/opportunities. The 
rich get to strut their stuff, unblanched — we enjoy pointing to 
them to show how good and suffering we ourselves now are. This 
goes on for about ten years, then we get a big war where a whole 
bunch of promising youth sacrifice the rest of their lives to the 
nation, and then we all slowly begin to feel that that’s about 
enough for compromised offerings: blood price — paid in full.
We then start detaching ourselves from our extended families, 
claim our own pieces of earth, and have one of those true youth­
lead periods of creativity, self­fulfillment and fun, that only are 
permitted to come about twice each century. Hang in there guys. 
And maybe some of you even buck the trend: it would make me 
near believe in miracles.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
"Brave" IS brave, but leaves the significant tear unattended
Andrew O’Hehir at Salon has suggested that Brave, however feminist,
doesn’t really undermine patriarchy – the daughter weaves a spell of
command and rhetoric to sway them to her side, but ultimately it’s to
the men to determine when sharp changes to tradition can be

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undertaken. But the whole (or almost the whole – see below) of what
Brave does is show only women as capable of the maturity, the
majesty to see what the realm needs to survive; the men, are twits,
practically always ready to hack at one-another over the smallest
slight. The men, that is, though they can supply buffoonish charms,
are mostly a drink-fest and a random melee waiting to happen: does
the movie really supply any doubt as to who maneuvered these realmsaving “patriarchal” traditions into place in the first place? Andrew’s
former peer at Salon, Stephanie Zacharek, has argued that Brave is
closer to Ratatouille and The Incredibles than to Wall-E and Up; and
with its preference to show ordinary folk as afflictions on those
mentally at least one rung up, there’s no doubt about it – it is.
You could tell by the released preview of the film that it is the
dynamic between mother and daughter which was going to make this
movie good (and maybe great), and this certainly proved true, with
the surprise being that the film actually ends up becoming more the
mother’s than the daughter’s. (Asked now to conjure up an
emblematic image, it wouldn’t be the redhead’s magnificent locks, but
the queen’s surprise as she tries to cover her bare self from view, or
her eyes as she started turning whole bear.) We remember not the
young lass shooting arrows, but her delight at seeing her mother gain
competency catching fish – it’s not so much the mother
countenancing the changes in her teenage daughter, that is, but the
daughter countenancing her mother’s accommodations to new status
and frightening powers. I liked this, but it goes against the natural
order, against plain fairness, frankly. It’s nice that the mother knows
new adventures and stretchings out of the possibilities of self, but if
the daughter doesn’t have her time now, during her teenage years,
when the whole pull of her lifeforce is directing her that way, her best
bet for it will be after she’s married and with kids, when her
adventuring might be mixed with anger at her previous long denial
and not do them any good.
You always hope films directed at young kids will still introduce them
to something adult. What is adult is to appreciate that the reason

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teenagers can actually end up shortchanging their efforts to
individuate, is owing to fear of the anger this arouses in their mothers
(to the mothers, their individuation feels vindictive), not to their
mothers ultimately prevailing to induce some appreciation of the
complicated ways of the world into their still limited and fully selfabsorbed minds. The youth agrees to marry – whomever, to cruelly
circumscribe herself the beautiful adventure of finding a soulmate,
after “maturely” coming to appreciate her desire for as much as
selfish. A whole environment is Truman-show produced to show her
brave act of telling her mom to piss the hell off, as something so
intrinsically abase it would lead to the like of her mom being
permanently disabled, and a whole realm at the cusp of war.
Fortunately, the mother has been apparently introduced to enough
fun that she ends up speaking up (or effectively motioning, if you
prefer) for the wisdom of allowance, for her daughter’s needs for the
same, and – with permission granted – thereby her daughter sways a
bit off the masochistic and is saved the fate of being life-long humped
by one of the idiot clansmen claiming her.
Still, there is a sense that the adult does make its appearance here,
perhaps to be mulled over and chewed on without us being so much
consciously aware we’re up to as much. When the mother starts
losing her own persona and going whole bear, the daughter is face to
face with someone who just a moment ago was her familiar mother
but has suddenly become someone fully absent from her, and also
very, very frightening and savage. I would argue that, outside of a few
very lucky ones, there’s isn’t any girl out there who hasn’t known
wicked fear at experiencing from their own mothers, this sort of
upsetting transformation. The look the bear directs at the daughter in
the film, a quick but very impressionable one, as of someone suddenly
alien who means her terrific harm, is of the obliterating kind that
foremost keeps young women from fully being comfortable with their
intuitions to explore the adult, with their developing mental checks,
inner-scolds, that keep them from letting life be too much about
ostensible mother-betrayal and self-realization. We only get this look

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twice in this film, and perhaps you are agreeing – thank god for it!
Putting something this true into the film can’t quite be called brave,
as it’s too “subliminal,” too deniable, to seem more than what a goodintentioned but also very careful place-holder might put forth. Same
thing can be said with the film’s other brave element – its actually
countenancing that what a family needs is a strong wife, able kids,
and a strong father. As mentioned, the real father in this film is an
idiot, and overtly this film belongs with a depressing, long slew of
films we’re likely to see forthcoming, where it’s near beyond
countenancing that female members don’t just simply take over. All
the men in this film are like cartoon characters put in odd pathetic
abundant company to a sex possessed of something vibrant and real –
exempting one notable exception. The adult male monster bear –
possessed somewhere inside by the spirit of a ranging, foundingfather clansman – has no truck for idiots or fools, either, nor is he
about to be toyed about by wee fey boys who idolize sweets, and he is
a fantastic creature which inspires equally fantastic engagement on
part of mother and daughter to be brought down. His is a powerful
“voice” – the mother “bear” is something in defense of her “cub,” but
he never in the battle, owing to someone else’s ferocity, loses his own
magnificence – and the three of them together undeniably in their
engagement inspire something along the lines of great, create a
landmark encounter from which a worthy mythology might be
constructed (the father’s engagement with the bear, from which he
wrung out a lifetime of tale-telling, was in comparison but Ekler vs.
Sugar Ray). The young girl’s talk of bravery subsequently, in fact,
only gains some credence owing it.
The most significant rift in this film is between mother-daughter and
an astray father, who has no “in” to meaningful involvement with his
family, and pretends to have true volition only with the rush that
comes from fleeing his impotence with them and wading into battles
with other intrinsically cowardly men. The great bear shows such a
presence the other two need to be at their best to shape its fate, and as
it’s not so hard to imagine something understood mostly as majestic

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being something that should be slotted at or near the head on your
own side, the great bear serves for a moment as akin to a beloved
strong, fierce, formidable father surprising the involved conspiracies
women were shaping by appearing forthright into their dynamic after
a long spell of traveling was finally over. And to everyone’s relief.
I would argue that mostly owing to the male bear, and not to the
movie-short shown just before Brave, which in retrospect seems a
calculated effort to perhaps alleviate some young men’s feeling
shortchanged by the film, boys might find themselves feeling
provisioned by this theater experience. But I still strongly suspect
that a lot of young men will walk away from Brave feeling as if
mocked by it, as if having suffered yet another rebuff. The film
informs us that progress in society involves further exploring the
relationship between mothers and daughters, putting men on the
backburner for a change. What a film like this, as well as a societal
current which favors its view, denies is that real progress would come
when boys, not girls, become more subject of their mothers’ attention
and love. In real life, mothers and daughters already have extensive
involvements with one-another, with the result being, and though I’ve
talked in this review mostly of the harm, still mostly a fleshing out of
the personality on the part of the daughter, the development of more
soul and intrinsic warmth. Boys still mostly lose sight of their
mothers, and as the psychohistorian Lloyd DeMause argues in his
great essay, “Why Men are More Violent,” though “mothers may
dominate their little girls and expect them to share their troubles,
[. . .] domination has been found to be far less damaging to the child’s
psyche than abandonment and routine distancing.” Without involved
contact with their mothers, in comparison to girls, boys become
personality-thin, evidently deprived and sadly dull. That is, the film
actually shows a truth in showcasing teenage boys as unappealing to
the eye, without any needing to look to their fathers to know there’s
no use trying to excuse them for just going through an awkward stage,
and in still showing more-or-less infant boys – still within the realm
of maternal attention – as far more captivating and spirited. May a

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brave film appear that actually overtly argues that something should
be done about this deplorable true-life actuality (and please not by
Adam Sandler, who I've long appreciated but no longer trust).
---------Thursday, June 21, 2012
"More cuts, please!": Current films and our self-torture
More Cuts, Please: Current Films and Our Self-Torture
Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston 2012
If you’re like me and you’re beginning to notice a lot of evil being
passed off as innocuous, just a joke, or even as good, and you’re
wondering why this has become so widespread, why people are doing
the opposite of the holy crusader and enterprising ways to target, to
demean the precariously placed, let me tell you what this is all about.
Most people are not comfortable when too much of the good life has
been made available to them. All the great things they’re hugging to
themselves has them feeling they’re worthy of disownment, of
catastrophic punishment, as this was the crippling experience they
were made to feel when they first as children started attending more
to their own needs than the unmet ones of their mothers. The
superego, set up as a child to protect him from reviving this
intolerable experience, by dissuading him from having too much fun
in life, takes over and comes up with a scheme that’ll save the self
from oblivion. Individually, we agree to take actually good things as
only of a form we can lament as gross and sinful – self-love, gluttony,
and so on – and collectively we make sure society is restructured so
that, rather being dominated by an aspiring middle class, it becomes
of the smallish quotient of the protected prospering accompanied by
the spread of losers. The moment when we began to become more
focused on our own individual lives and our mothers turned away

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from us, abandoned us – intentionally – for our unconsciously
presumed to be deliberate abandonment of them, is replicated and
stretched out for a tedious sum of years. And this time “the child”
does not find way to inevitably grow anyway, but simply to suffer
wounds, sores – degradations – it intuited it deserved for this most
quintessential and worst of crimes, while “the mother” is put in plain
view in her absolute worst light, self-absorbed, disconnected, cruel,
thereby allowing the child to demonstrate absolute obeisance to her
will by seeing all but allowing himself to register nothing. Woe to all
those, that is, who’d call Her a tyrant! Thereby – believe it or not – a
worse fate is felt to have been averted.
Most people alive unconsciously want our society to be for awhile of
disconnected winners and afflicted losers. This sounds ridiculous to
you, I know, but how do you account for the fact that Romney has
been mostly identified at this point as an elite, lifelong ensconced in
pampered surrounds, as an uncaring asshole who bullied other kids
and is thoughtless to those – our pets – defined by their being under
our care, as someone who unabashedly is a friend to corporations and
who is very, very awkwardly trying to fit what is evidently wholesale
their agenda into packaging that sounds at least a bit bottom-up, and
yet very plausibly has a legitimate shot at the presidency? And how do
you account for the fact that since dealing with the cleanup of 9-11
the very last thing we’ve had to worry about is mass public denial of
the afflictions to public service men and women, debilitated through
their experience in whatever service they’ve undertaken – the
physical injuries they’ve suffered, the psychological ones driving them
to suicide, the financial ones telling them they’ve got destitution
awaiting them in their home life as well – with I think the near
conscious collective realization that no one for a good while is going
to do much about it, even with all the facts laid bare, week after week,
by our news media?
Politics and economics produce the carnage. What the media does is

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ensure we all know it’s being done, transforming all the incoming
variant data of external suffering into quotients of sacrifice we can
please ourselves by counting and stacking up. Fairly assessed to be at
the helm of this madness is what is most commonly assumed to be a
tag-along – popular arts, which, rather than offering escapes, keeps
us at some level keen that none of this carnage owes to happenstance
but rather entirely to our dictates. Films, that is, are directed – if it’s
on the screen, it’s ’cause somebody wanted it there. And more and
more we’re assuming they’re done, not by auteurs lead by their own
idiosyncrasies, but by those skilled at taking percipient guesses as to
what we’re going to want next.
What we wanted not that long ago were still films that told us we
really don’t deserve to be kept stunted, and that what we really need
are more sparks of encouragement and love in our lives to start us on
the path to realizing ourselves – Wall-E is perhaps the strongest last
evidence of this. The grossly askew in this film are the robots put in
power when society had become all corporate, determined to slacken
human beings into their most passive forms to expedite vulgar profitmaking – specifically Auto, who can only recognize real life as
something aberrant and destructive. To the perceptive, the ostensibly
ordinary in this movie, like Wall-E and the corpulent, childish
captain, are more evolved than the superficially superior specimens –
to Eve, who is shown as massively repressed, as essentially deprived,
despite her lavished-upon Apple-white gloss, her Maximilian
physique and power. Part of the point of Eve in the movie is in fact to
show up an awesome arsenal as mostly just good protection to absorb
the shocks and blows that might incur should you chance to actually
begin a souled life. The difference between her and the tiny linemaking robot, whom Wall-E drives into fits over the most trivial of
trespasses as fair register of its inanity, is ultimately trivial.
But around the time Wall-E was released came also very popular
Ratatouille and Dark Knight, and subsequently it has become evident

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that whereas Wall-E was at the crest of something good, these films
were at the core of something foul which has become the bulk of our
view. Ratatouille is the dark to Wall-E’s light. Wall-E holds to the
generous view that what is greatest in humans is to be possessed by
each one of them, regardless of cultivation or IQ; Ratatouille to the
opinion that the masses are dispossessed of anything worthy, and
only worth a nod if they at some level recognize their bumpkinness
and put themselves at your disposal. That is, while Wall-E gives you
irrepressible Wall-E, as well as the indefatigable captain, Ratatouille
gives you limp-noodle Linguini as your representative of the average.
While Wall-E portrays manipulation and control of the masses as
evil, Ratatouille shows it as necessary – not just to ensure the
cultivated and smart collect within the society