Philip Roth

Philip Roth has died.

Do yourself a favour. Pick up one of his books, especially one written in the last twenty years. Read it.

He was one of the very few novelists who wrote for men, especially men over 50 years of age. Which is, dear reader, most likely you. A giant of a writer, and a master of seeing through bullshit.

From the obituary in the New York Times:

In his 60s, an age when many writers are winding down, he produced an exceptional sequence of historical novels — “American Pastoral,” “The Human Stain” and “I Married a Communist” — a product of his personal re-engagement with America and American themes. And starting with “Everyman” in 2006, when he was 73, he kept up a relentless book-a-year pace, publishing works that while not necessarily major were nevertheless fiercely intelligent and sharply observed. Their theme in one way or another was the ravages of age and mortality itself, and in publishing them Mr. Roth seemed to be defiantly staving off his own decline.

Mr. Roth was often lumped together with Bellow and Bernard Malamud as part of the “Hart, Schaffner & Marx of American letters,” but he resisted the label. “The epithet American-Jewish writer has no meaning for me,” he said. “If I’m not an American, I’m nothing.”

A great contrast

I was struck by the most obvious aspect of the debate posted on youtube. The first is a radio show of Jordan Peterson with two orthodox British feminists. The second is a discussion among Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro and JP.

In the radio show, Peterson had just finished discussing how, in Scandinavia, men and women pursue different interests because of equality of opportunity (same as is made in the Norwegian TV series Hjernevask -Brainwash). Clearly this line of discussion could not be allowed to continue, because it would draw attention to the glaring hole in feminism, which is that men and women naturally prefer to follow different interests. The hostess switched the topic to Trump as fast as she could, to  prevent the topic from wandering into the forbidden zone of biological differences.

In the discussion among men – and I mention their sex advisedly – the topics concern psychedelic drugs, Judaeo-Christian morality, myth, truth, mind, and large issues.

One is an example of what really smart men get into, and the other is an example of why there needs to be a revolution against the tyranny of stupid women who think they are smart.

 

 

 

The New Dune

I hear that Denis Villeneuve is making a reprise of Frank Herbert‘s Dune. It will take a supreme artistry to outdo the evil depicted by David Lynch’s version of Baron Harkonnen and his nephews.

Trump would make an excellent Baron Harkonnen, except he is an actual tough guy, not a fat actor playing one.

“He who controls the spice controls the universe!”

Though it was a commercial flop at the time, Lynch’s Dune is a triumph of the artistic imagination. It bears obsessive re-watching.

Also worthy of mention is the TV  miniseries.

Further on delusional frameworks

Richard III earliest surviving portrait.jpgImage result for trump

 

 

Andrew Sullivan engages in the only polemic against Trump that has ever caused me to consider I was wrong about him. I love it! It is so powerful, so over-the-top, it nearly had me for a moment. Try it, you will like it.

The piece is in three parts. It starts with a catalog of Trump’s errors, as he sees them, which is merely a warm-up for the indictment.

The second part assaults the Left in a way I believe to be a true description of their intentions and tactics. It is a dark though accurate vision.

 

Nothing could be further from the left’s current vision, which is that the very concept of post-racial integration is an illusion designed to mask the reality of an eternal “white supremacy.” Today’s left-liberal consensus is that Obama, however revered he may still be as president, was and is absurdly naïve in this respect: that there is no recovery from the original sin, no possible redemption, and certainly no space for the concept of an individual citizenship that transcends race and can unite Americans. There is no freedom here. There is just oppression. The question is merely about who oppresses whom.

The idea that African-Americans have some responsibility for their own advancement, that absent fatherhood and a cultural association of studying with “acting white” are part of the problem — themes Obama touched upon throughout his presidency — is now almost a definition of racism itself. And the animating goal of progressive politics is unvarnished race and gender warfare. What matters before anything else is what race and gender you are, and therefore what side you are on. And in this neo-Marxist worldview, fully embraced by a hefty majority of the next generation, the very idea of America as a liberating experiment, dissolving tribal loyalties in a common journey toward individual opportunity, is anathema.

There is no arc of history here, just an eternal grinding of the racist and sexist wheel. What matters is that nonwhites fight and defeat white supremacy, that women unite and defeat oppressive masculinity, and that the trans supplant and redefine the cis. What matters is equality of outcome, and it cannot be delayed. All the ideas that might complicate this — meritocracy, for example, or a color-blind vision of justice, or equality of opportunity rather than outcome — are to be mocked until they are dismantled. And the political goal is not a post-racial fusion, a unity of the red and the blue, but the rallying of the victims against the victimizers, animated by the core belief that a non-“white” and non-male majority will at some point come, after which the new hierarchies can be imposed by fiat. When you read the Jeremiah Wright speech today, it seems as if it is coming from a different era altogether.

In the third section, Sullivan likens Trump to King Richard III, as presented by Shakespeare. Truly this is a triumph of invective, and fully confirms my view that people are being driven mad – mad – by the breakdown of their cognitive apparatus in the wake of the Donald’s passage through time.

The tyrant is not in full control of himself, and has no real idea of what to do with power when he gets it — except purge his ranks and dispatch his rivals in an endless cycle of insecurity. No one lasts for long in Richard’s orbit, or Trump’s. He rages forward blindly, and his only constancy is his paranoia, loneliness, and willingness to cause collateral damage to anything around him. The only way to defeat him, Shakespeare implies, is from outside the system itself: via an invading army, led by an exile. Even then, the damage is deep and lasting. Richard’s reign is just two years long; but the scar is indelible.

And this is indeed the kernel of what I fear: that if Mueller at any point presents a real conflict between the rule of law and Trump’s ego, the ego will win. If Trump has to fire his attorney general, and anyone else, he will. If he has to initiate a catastrophic conflict to save face, he will. If he has to delegitimize the Department of Justice, empty the State Department, and turn law enforcement against itself, he will. If he has to unleash unspeakable racial demons to save himself from political oblivion, he will not hesitate to do so. If he has to separate children from parents, describe humans as animals, and turn Christians into pagans, he will not blink. This is what a tyrant does….

Trump, it seems to me, has established this tyrannical dynamic with remarkable speed. And what we are about to find out is whether the Founders who saw such a character as an eternal threat to their republic have constructed institutions capable of checking him without the impact of an external intervention, of a disaster so complete it finally breaks the tyrant’s spell. Watching what has transpired these past two years, seeing how truly weak the system is, and how unwilling so many have been to recognize our new disorder, I see no reason to be optimistic. The play is a tragedy, after all.

You are at liberty to view this as mere vaporing, however erudite and informed. Or deeply insightful, and which predicts tragedy.

I do not share this perspective.

I consider that Trump is more sinned against than sinning, to cite King Lear. I believe him to have been the object of a conspiracy of espionage agencies (Brennan, Comey, Clapper) using opposition research bought or purveyed by the Democrats, which is fabricated nonsense, in the attempt to cripple his regime by delegitimizing it from the beginning on the basis of a story of Russian collusion and interference.

I consider that the Mueller probe is a weapon of the permanent State and Democratic political appointees against the President, and predict that, after two years of turning over every page, it cannot and will not find any evidence of the collusion it was intended to find. But like any bureaucratic legal enterprize, it will seek eternal self-perpetuation.

In short, Trump’s enemies have nothing on him except political differences.

Those who hate Trump may fear a Richard III,  wandering the halls of power and calling for the assassination of enemies, if they had the culture and literary imagination. What they have, by contrast, is a vulgar and effective billionaire real estate developer, who is whipping their collective asses with his success.

So to Andrew Sullivan, I say, nice try. A very nice try. An erudite, informed and brilliant try. But I am not buying it. One of us is off his rocker, and it is not me. As Robert Frost once said, you have to have a certain coarseness to get through life: I have it, it would seem,  and Andrew Sullivan does not. Because I see Sullivan’s take on Trump-as-tyrant as an effusion of a certain type of gay excess, like the apartment in La Cage aux Folles. I dislike descending to stereotypes, yet in this case they are apposite.

The script writers are being fired

Ho ho ho!

Inspector General Horowitz found “reasonable grounds” for believing there has been a violation of federal criminal law in the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

The essential Democratic and Deep State illusion was that somehow they had not lost the election. That it was impossible for them to have lost it. So they concocted the Trump collusion-with-Putin story. That story is now unravelling. It looks like Obama and the Deep State conspired in many ways against the Trump campaign and swept Hillary’s misdeeds under the rug.

I predict this will eventuate in Obama being seen as the leftist villain that he is. That is to say, seen by the mass of moderate people who do not obsess with political blogs like this one.

The last time around, when George W. was President, the Democrats withdrew into the dream world of the West Wing, where wise Jeb Bartlett reigned as the alternative and very Democratic President. This time they were not content with realizing their fiction in television, and sought to achieve their fiction in reality, using the MSM and the Courts and the Special Investigator, Mueller.

Unfortunately for the scriptwriters, having tried to eliminate Trump by the two year long investigation into a fictional construct of Russian-Trump collusion, it turns out that the scriptwriters have themselves been revealed. They turn out to have been the senior levels of the FBI (James Comey) and the CIA (John Brennan). The audience is just as happy to see them dragged before the public for ritual abuse as they would have been happy to see Trump impeached.

Once you start concocting political fiction, using investigations, courts, the media and the full apparatus of US institutions, you are obliged to keep up the pace. The plot stalled. So a plot twist had to be devised to maintain public interest. Now Queen Hillary is being dragged in to save the ratings war.

To recap:

To Scott Adams, politics is an insult contest.

To the Z-man, it is a rock fight.

To Dalwhinnie, it is all a television series. When the television series stalls, the script writers are fired.

 

VDH on Conrad Black’s bio of Trump

Why Trump Is a President Like No Other

“What made Trump different from his competitors? Likely, his cunning, his almost Thucydidean reading of human nature, and his sixth sense about timing and salesmanship. In Plutarchian fashion, Black focuses on Trump’s physicality, especially his boundless energy and his impatience with nuance and self-doubt (“desperate cunning, unflagging determination, unshakeable self-confidence, ruthless Darwinian instincts of survival, and a sublime assurance that celebrity will heal all wounds”). Of course, the media and politicians were not ready for the naked applicability of these traits to the White House. But, as Black notes, the American people after decades of misgovernance were—as if to let loose Trump on their country as both avenger and deliverer.”

Trying to make sense of it all: All Trump, all the time, chapter 67, cognitive dissonance

As I sift through the political Internet, I feel like a giant whale taking in a ton of water with every mouthful, then squeezing it out through my baleen, leaving behind the tasty krill.  It is hard work. As I vacuum up the ocean of bafflegab, utterly predictable views, and outright hysteria on the subject of US politics in general and Trump in particular, I have occasion to consider that I have not seen US politics so demented since the era of President Nixon.

Only this time the MSM, the deep state and the Democratic power structure is not going to bring down the President.

Why am I convinced of this? Several reasons.

  1. There is nothing to the Trump-Russian collusion story. Even the Democratic New York Times occasionally allows this to be admitted. The analysis by Mollie Hemingway in the Federalist of the New York Times piece is very useful. She wrote:

“In paragraph 69 of the lengthy story, The New York Times takes itself to task for burying the lede in its October 31, 2016, story about the FBI not finding any proof of involvement with Russian election meddling.

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

It is somewhat funny, then, to read what The New York Times buries in paragraph 70 of the story:

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.

No evidence of collusion after two years of investigation with unlimited resources? You don’t say! What could that mean?”

Through all the brouhaha of Democratic and MSM agitation, if you read closely, the flagship voice of the MSM admits that the story is void of merit. Think about that for a moment. Two years of relentless agitation and political theatre, all predicated on something they now admit is nothing.

2. Trump keeps winning. Be it North Korea or Iran, or tax reform and putting America back to work, the decisions and actions of Trump have led away from nuclear war, they confront the wicked, confirm that the professional diplomatic class  is consistently wrong, and (I gloat) offend left wing opinion. Much could go wrong in any direction, and always can. Yet it is a relief to have someone in the White House who can deal with thugs, because the bad parts of the world are governed by them, and not by left-wing professors, or people who think the opinion of the Harvard University Faculty Club actually matters.

The deeper mystery is why the apparent insanity of Establishment opinion on the subject of Trump. By insanity I refer to the obsession with him, the assumption that he understands nothing, that he is a fascist, racist, homophobe. and so forth, menace to the Constitution, illegally in power, and so forth. The under-estimation is endless, and leads the opposition to Trump into vast errors. Why are the intelligent so stupid?

 

I have not seen such political dementia on the part of so many otherwise intelligent people. It occurred during Nixon, and it may have been present in Republican circles during the time of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Scott Adams explains this as a complete breakdown of the predictive value of their world view. “This side has been wrong about everything for two years”.

Dysfunctional and non-predictive. Nothing makes  sense to them anymore. Hence the insanity.

Adams has been making predictions since 2015 that have become true. He says his success is based on his idea of political discourse, which is that it is an insult contest. If you adopt this view, then you have no cognitive dissonance, and reality makes sense to you. Hence you are not angry. Hence you can appreciate Trump without adoring him, evaluate him without hatred or passion. I feel cool or mild toward Trump; I feel I watch him carefully, evaluate what he is doing and come to what I think are reasonable judgments. I am not excited, or offended, or adulatory.

Those on the other side of the debate cannot hear me, or you. Their picture of the world has broken down and nothing is making sense any more. For instance, they keep assuming you are saying something different when you speak. Just as Jordan Peterson kept saying to his interviewer, Cathy Newman, “no I am not saying A, I am saying B” and she could not hear him until the moment when she realized she was being absurd. But Newman was intelligent enough, and honest enough, to know that she had been fairly caught. Most anti-Trumpers are too distracted by their cognitive dissonance, too enmeshed in their outrage, to realize they are just spluttering.

Reframing, rebranding, that is the business of politics. And Trump has been a genius at it.