A Geographical Interlude

Let's begin with defining our terms:

Next, some aspects of the legal system:

How Big a Threat is Psychiatry?

If you've never seen the BBC Documentary "The Century of the Self,"  (also at YouTube) it is a prerequisite for this discussion. It reveals how psychiatry convinced governments across the world, including our own and others we think of as humane, that most of humanity were savage beasts in need of control: this produced monstrous secret government programs even in the United States. The effect of Freud on the elite who studied him was a horrified fear of those they governed -- and, then, sought to rule and dominate for their own self-preservation. 

Later psychoanalysis created extraordinary instability by asserting that human meaning was to be found through self-actualization rather than in communities with common purpose. One example in the documentary is a convent of nuns that was completely destroyed by it. They began with devout and sworn members of a lifelong religious community. The effect was that 300 nuns -- more than half the convent -- petitioned to be released from their vows. The convent closed its doors to new recruits. The remainder of the convent divided into those who "became radical lesbian nuns," and who drove out  most of the rest. (This is at 2 hours, 20 minutes, 13 seconds in the YoutTube video.) A community with a deep, meaningful commitment to a moral vision of the good life was completely destroyed by psychoanalysis committed to self-actualization.

The modal answer to the question therefore should be "At least among the biggest threats facing humanity"; we are interested in whether or not it is closer to the biggest one, or a somewhat less pressing (but still major) threat.

So today we see a new psychoanalytic theory that most of America is malignantly ill. 
Whiteness is a condition one first acquires and then one has—a malignant, parasitic-like condition to which “white” people have a particular susceptibility. The condition is foundational, generating characteristic ways of being in one’s body, in one’s mind, and in one’s world. Parasitic Whiteness renders its hosts’ appetites voracious, insatiable, and perverse. These deformed appetites particularly target nonwhite peoples. Once established, these appetites are nearly impossible to eliminate. Effective treatment consists of a combination of psychic and social-historical interventions. Such interventions can reasonably aim only to reshape Whiteness’s infiltrated appetites—to reduce their intensity, redistribute their aims, and occasionally turn those aims toward the work of reparation. When remembered and represented, the ravages wreaked by the chronic condition can function either as warning (“never again”) or as temptation (“great again”). Memorialization alone, therefore, is no guarantee against regression. There is not yet a permanent cure.
There is, of course, a permanent cure. It is the one that the phrase "never again" intends to memorialize. This psychiatrist is here engage in a rhetorical move, one that is meant to yoke the left-hated Israel to the left-hated flag-waving Americans, who were also characterized as 'having whiteness.' It is also meant to diminish the concerns of both groups to mere psychological disorders, not pointed at real threats faced by anyone. 

Yet of course there really was a Holocaust; and there really could be another. Antisemitism is rising even in America, and on both the political right and left. A rabbi I know is warning American Jews that they may no longer be safe in America; and indeed there are places where they well may not be. 

And there is really a genocide going on right now in China, where the Uighur people are being both actively exterminated and subject to legal restrictions on their reproduction. This is no paranoid delusion, but an actual fact. China is, of course, the power that stands to gain the most should America fail to be 'great again.' 

This is not one guy, either.  It is not just him plus that lady at Yale who fantasizes about emptying revolvers into people. It is an idea that is gaining prominence in American society, especially among psychiatrists. 

So: watch the documentary if you have not. It is fairly long, but time very well spent. Then consider this question, and what might be done about it. 

I Don't Think Waylon Done It This Way

Nashville is a mainstreaming, corporate giant that tries to force every act into the same kind of proven, salable sound. That's been true since Country Music has been a thing. It was the reason that Willie Nelson left Nashville and returned to Texas, where in Luckenbach and Austin he founded his own thing. It's why he asked Waylon Jennings to join him, and the two of them built the Outlaw revolution.

The thing they had going for themselves, though, was that they were both great musicians. They had great bands that could do something different, worthy of doing in its own right.

I'm not convinced that is true here.

At least so far, this guy is just selling Nashville music with political lyrics. That's fine; he can do what he wants. But he's not the same kind of revolutionary. 

Lanterns rising

A weaver friend designed and made this rug. The pattern is meant to suggest Chinese lanterns rising into a darkening sky.

First JP, Now Mat Best

I suspected JP was a conservative for some time before I saw his coming out video, but this one caught me completely by surprise.

Put the drink down before you watch this one.

We Own the Night

 A touching father-daughter moment from BRCC ...

Germany Prepares to Evacuate AFG

Careful plans are being made.
According to Germany’s Ministry of Defense, all the alcohol will be repatriated before the last German boot leaves Afghan soil.

Circe by Madeline Miller: A Review

My sister sent me a copy of Circe, a novel by Madeline Miller that is built around the title character's role in Greek mythology. Although I have spent a lot of time with Greek mythology, history, and philosophy, I would probably never have bought this book for myself. I generally do not read things written in the last hundred years, with rare exceptions that come highly recommended. 

The NYT review they cite as a pull-quote gives it thus: ""A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right" (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times)."

I am sure it was intended to be subversive since that is the thing to be as a contemporary author, but I did not find it so. I think Plato would have hated it for exactly the same reasons he hated the poets' treatment of the gods, which readers are familiar with from our trip through the Laws. In an important way, then, it's well-placed in the tradition rather than subversive of it. The problem for Plato was that the Greek popular ideas about the gods were subversive to the philosophical idea that justice was somehow rooted in the divine order -- an order that the stories about the gods showed to be entirely based on divine behaviors that would be predatory and vicious in a human being. 

That theme is the major theme of the book: that the divines are really very bad people, and just because they do not struggle, suffer, and die like mortals do. Mortals have all the same vicious inclinations, but they end up being tempered those qualities that would seem to make mortals' lot undesirable by comparison. It is our need to work hard and practice to perfect our crafts that develops virtues like patience, self-discipline, and temperance. It is our doom of death that forces us to develop courage, prudence, and that can enable us to develop a sense of mercy. It is our suffering that opens us to empathy, as we know what suffering is like. It is our need to struggle to gain our masteries that give us sympathy for those who -- unlike the Greek gods, in her telling -- are still struggling to gain a foothold. 

This reading would probably have gotten you executed as a philosopher in ancient Athens, but they executed Socrates (and nearly Aristotle). It is just why Plato wanted to force the poets to reform in their stories about the gods, so that the gods would not seem like spoiled and vicious beings. She also shows why a god could even come to see death as desirable once she sees the value of mortal beings. This underlines why the ancient mythic order was readily subverted by a God who would choose to walk as a mortal, to suffer and die as we do, and then to prepare the way for us for a better next world. This is not a theme and never mentioned, but it undermines the idea that this novel is subversive: yes, but not of our own moral order. It is subversive of the ancient mythic order, just as Plato warned these stories would be. It is therefore a fit part of the ancient tradition, and undermines it only on its own terms.

Miller departs from the ancient Greek tradition in places, but her choices are defensible. For example, she elects to follow Ovid in her treatment of Scylla, rather than Greek sources. She also follows a lost poem that is probably authentically ancient Greek, but which we have only in summary. I didn't care for that choice personally because it gives Odysseus a worse story than some other sources and he is my favorite of the Homeric characters; but she was writing about Circe, and her decision is entirely within an author's prerogative. 

She loses focus on her major theme only once that I can tell, when she introduces a feminist element to (partially) justify Circe's violence against sailors like Odysseus'. Only in that one chapter do male mortals become reliably vicious characters; and even then the one chapter is tempered by later reflections on the morality of using violence against others. It ends up being balanced against Telemachus' participation in the executions of the slave girls (and everyone else) at the end of the Odyssey, which Miller views with contemporary horror. Yet Circe has done as much, and as carelessly of whether or not her violence was always deserved, as she admits and of which she refuses to be absolved. 

I will close with some praise for her skills as a writer. Much of the book is beautifully written, especially in the context of modern novels which are rarely so. Well done.

More waltzy stuff

This is a Leonard Cohen song, but I like what Joe Cocker and Leon Russell do with it.

Tennessee Waltz

Thank God and Greyhound

A piece by the great Roy Clark. 

Disturbing American Flags

A reporter speaks of her harrowing experience on Long Island.

Her complaint starts with American flags flying from the backs of pickup trucks, and later expands to dozens and dozens of American flags flying per se. I remembered later how, in 2003, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean sparked a minor furor by saying that he wanted "to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," adding that he only thought they could win by appealing "to a broad cross-section of Democrats." It's true that Clinton and Gore had run using Confederate flag campaign memorabilia, and that Jimmy Carter was often seen with Confederate flags. For that matter, here's JFK being presented with one, though like Dean he was a non-Southerner who had no plausible heritage-based reasons to associate with it. 

Both of those Democratic campaigns had carried Georgia, and therefore the White House. However, by 1996 Zell Miller as Governor of Georgia was trying to remove the Confederate flag from the state flag, which his successor succeeded in doing; by 2003, Dean was the last person to think that guys with Confederate flags flying from the backs of their pickup trucks were good people whose votes he wanted.

I can understand the way that Democrats decided to stop chasing white Southerners of proud Confederate heritage as voters. The Democrats' own history there is extremely embarrassing -- being the party of the Confederacy, the KKK, and Jim Crow -- and the story they'd like to tell of themselves was the Civil Rights story they've come to prefer. Republicans somehow allowed themselves to become painted as the heritage party of racism and all that, even though they had historically been a major force in opposition. This is similar to how nobody remembers the NRA's role in providing arms and training to black Freedmen, nor for that matter the NRA's role in helping arm the UK against Nazi invasion in World War II. Both organizations had every right to stand on their history and fight for it, but somehow both groups got stuck with the worst labels. 

What is happening now, as this reporter shows, is that 'men who fly flags from their pickup trucks' is becoming an undesirable part of the story the Democratic Party wants to tell about itself. Indeed, it is 'men who fly American flags at all.' They are, she says, a minority who should be "marginalized"; also a threat to be taken seriously, worried about, monitored, any force of government that can be marshalled by her side brought to bear against them. 

These are the people she thinks are dangerous to democracy: them, not herself. These are the people that she thinks are dangerous to America: the ones who fly American flags. 

It's madness, a collective madness that she and those interviewing her share (the lady at the end says she 'agrees totally'). Embedded within it is that preferred Democratic story about our history that puts these people on the wrong side of racism, now called 'Whiteness.' She does not know whose ancestors fought against slavery or armed the English against the Nazis. This is Long Island, home of the Creedmore Rifle Range founded in 1872 by the NRA and the state legislature of New York; the whole point was to train the citizens of New York City in riflemanship, to mitigate the advantages of the rural South if another fight were needed. 

She has no idea how wildly wrong she is, and neither do any of them; but they think they are the educated ones, just as they think they are the democratic ones. Their madness is a drumbeat driving our nation to ruin; but they believe they are its only saviors. 

When snowflakes strike

Powerline assesses the New Yorker union webpage. His favorite line (and mine) is "prestige without the pay is élitist." If you don't pay me a wage commensurate with my staggering prestige, you force me to taint myself with elitism, and that would be wrong.


I don’t know if I put this up here before, but I meant to do. 

“43 has got the nerve.” Yeah he did. 

Some Remarks on Hillbillies

From someone named Robert Weissberg:

At the core of this elitist fear of Hillbillies (aka Po White, Rednecks, or Trailer Park Trash) is the elite’s realization that these denizens of rural America enjoy an almost genetic immunity to today’s race-based, politically correct narrative. Yes, the Dukes of Hazzard County folk may not be the brightest bulbs in the chandelier or especially well-informed politically, but when they hear mendacious anti-American lies, they may as well be rocket scientists. They admire America for what it is, not according to some bizarre ideology cooked up in a faculty lounge. Unlike timid elected officials, these people are not afraid of expressing “offensive’ views....

Hillbillies refuse to be placated by the elite’s permission to run wild and grab free stuff. No member of the White Trash Community will have their political grievances satisfied by looting Farm and Fleet or upsetting tables at a Cracker Barrel.

The Hillbilly Community is not easily bought off with elite-supplied goodies such as overpaid jobs as professors of Appalachian Studies or campus directors of outreach dedicated to targeting underserved rural populations. Nor are they willing to sacrifice personal freedom (and self-respect) to qualify as affirmative action hires. Chuck Yaeger would never have enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces if they lowered standards to fill diversity quotas.

I don't know who this guy is, but he should talk to Joe Bob Briggs. He's got a whole speech about this. Here's a sample.

I'd add that the gun-owning community, which overlaps somewhat with the community under discussion here (though far from perfectly) has responded to recent events not by looting but by purchasing ammunition. We're two years out on backorders right now; old manufacturing lines are being reopened to satisfy demand.

On old guns too: I hear Marlin Firearms lever actions may be available again soon. 

All Livestock


Prudence from West Virginia

Senator Joe Manchin saves the Republic from a grave peril by an exercise of practical wisdom. Well done. 


A long time ago now, and very few are alive who remember it. Since we have had pipers this week, here’s a couple of videos remembering the role of Bill Millin. He was one man among many thousands, all united in common purpose. 

Actual Treason in the Senate

A book reviewed by MIT Press points out that Ted Kennedy had a KGB liaison, and that he regularly communicated with the USSR on undercutting American foreign policy. 

That explains his long, deep friendship with John Kerry.