Part of my leftism … was a sales pitch, not in the most crass sense, but in the sense that Hollywood is a very competitive place, as I'm sure everybody knows, and you have to distinguish yourself in some way, like the kid who raises his hand in school and says "Pick me, pick me." I was trying to be, if not the most left kid on the block, one of the more left kids on the block because I realized that the executive class there sort of envied that …
I went to China in 1979, which fits in with the previous question because when I went to China, very few had gone, and it gave me a tremendous panache. So although I realized when I was there that I was in this massive jail, and I was anxious to leave at the end for sure, when I came back I soft-pedaled that. I even soft-pedaled that in a novel I wrote, Peking Duck — which I believe is still an interesting book because it gives a sense of what it was like there at the time — but I soft-pedaled it because I knew in Hollywood it would be cool for me to have been to China … because very few people had gone at that point …
"To trash Bush was to belong," writes Debra J. Saunders, putting her finger on the primal tribal imperative that underlies the relentless scapegoating of our 43rd president by his political adversaries gadding the corridors of power these last eight years, together with their allies in the media, here and abroad.
It looks like Roger and we ourselves are on the same page. Googling a suitable image for our blogpost, we stumbled upon this RLS quotation from a National Review Radio interview we'd missed a couple of weeks back:
Back to that City Journal interview for one more important insight. "You talk about how every Hollywood star has a kind of 'Mini-Me' inside," prompts Anderson, "the public face that espouses liberal platitudes; they live differently or think differently in their private lives":
Well, it's one of my theories, and I think it holds true, that because Hollywood is so ruthlessly competitive — I think people can guess that it is because lots of people wanna be stars, wanna be writers, fame and fortune is there — people have to fight like Hell to get their positions, and they don't always do nice things, and they become like that, they become callous, and they become tough. They feel bad about that a little bit because people don't like to be that way so they create this "Mini-Me," like the Austin Powers Mini-Me, [who] goes around saying "I'm the most progressive person in town. I'm for the people. I love you," and then they shut the gate on their estate in Bel Air and tell their assistant to go get the dry cleaning.
Aid given to people — no matter who they are — when it is not earned carries with it a level of insult and denigration. It comes from on high to down low and carries with it an implicit message of lowness.
"Reader RJH … sums it up nicely in the comments," we concluded:
That's a good read, and I have heard several variations on that theme from others. Not so much OJ specifically but people that had been lifelong liberals that changed their beliefs after taking a long hard honest look at what affirmative action and other Democrat causes had done to the black community. The black family structure was the strongest in the country. Today it has been decimated by Democrat "compassion." I doubt they could have done more damage if they had tried.
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously said, explaining "What I mean by that, it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do." Translation: Take the money and run when people are preoccupied, and you can get away with spending it in ways they would never agree to were they paying attention.
"It's not just art. Why do people have pets? — other species of animals — and devote inordinate amounts of time and love to them?" I mean, the standard answers have always been, well, they're surrogate children or something like that or they're filling a void in people's lives. No. There's something stronger there, the pleasure that people get from their dogs and cats and other animals that they have is deeper than that. To me that's very curious … Why do we like various cheeses? Why do we like the various foods we like? That's just on the way, I suppose, to understanding the late quartets of Beethoven. They move us deeply. They give us intense pleasure, and music is universal. These sorts of factors in the human personality cry out for a Darwinian explanation.
We are totally sympatico with Dutton's thesis and were delighted with his linking of our species' love of beasts and Beethoven as points on a spectrum. It called to mind our favorite Thoreau quotation:
As a second comes universality. What we've had over the last forty years is an ideology in academic life that regards the arts as socially constructed and therefore unique to local cultures. I call it an ideology because it is not argued for, it is just presupposed in most aesthetic discourse. Allied with this position is the idea that we can seldom or perhaps never really understand the arts of other cultures; other cultures likewise can't understand our arts. Everybody's living in his or her own socially constructed, hermetically sealed, special cultural world.
But of course, a moment’s thought reveals that this can’t possibly be true. We know people in Brazil love Japanese prints, that Italian opera is enjoyed in China. Both Beethoven and Hollywood movies have swept the world. Think of it — the Vienna Conservatory has been saved by a combination of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese pianists …
Pleasure, universality, spontaneous development. We see them in the cross-cultural realities of music, the universality of storytelling, as well as things like food tastes, erotic interests, pet-keeping, sports interests, our fascination with puzzle solving, gossip — the list is indefinitely long. Charles Darwin has a lot more to say about how we evolved as inventive and expressive social animals with our remarkable personalities than has been given credit for. These aspects of evolution have deep implications for the origins and evolution of the arts.
"I love William Blake's 'The Tyger,'" we wrote in answer to the question "What is your favourite poem?" for our normblog profile back in October of 2005. "Dazzling imagery red in tooth and claw makes mincemeat of the peaceable kingdom paradigm," we added with relish. In photo Tiny, one of "our own in-house tygers …with fire burning bright in [her] eyes as [she and her brother] defended their turf from the intruder."
One more related thought. "Survival of the fittest usually makes one think of the biggest,
strongest, or smartest individuals being the winners, but in a
biological sense, evolutionary fitness refers to the ability to survive
and reproduce in a particular environment," explains the PBS Evolution
Library, making a point that people who aren't paying attention often
Democratic Europe's go-along-to-get-along types in turn call to mind those members of academia who go along with politically correct groupthink they may not agree with in order to protect their careers. Call it "Fear Society Lite." Sharansky's "mechanics of tyranny that sustain such a society" are at work in those lofty intellectual bubbles just as surely as they were in the old Soviet Union and are today in the Arab tyrannies. A repressive society is a repressive society, wherever it may fall on a continuum of brutality and thought control. The crushing of dissent brutalizes the human spirit. Sharansky's optimism encourages the human spirit to soar.
If you want to be a one-dimensional determinist, go
ahead and make it all "culture." My side of the argument isn't trying
to make it all "nature," make it all genetics. Human life is lived in a
middle position between our genetic determinants on the one hand and
culture on the other. It's out of that that human freedom emerges. And
artistic works, the plays of Shakespeare, the novels of Jane Austen,
the works of Wagner and Beethoven, Rembrandt and Hokusai, are among the
freest, most human acts ever accomplished. These creations are the
ultimate expressions of freedom.
Like Thoreau's wildest, "The most alive is the freest. Not subdued to any man, its presence refreshes him."
A purple-tailed [!] Easthern Gray Squirrel takes advantage of free food meant for the birds but available to a clever sciuridad in our bro and sis-in-law's backyard the other day. After climbing down the bird-feeder wire strung from a branch of
the venerable Silver Maple (see photo below), it lands upon the
"squirrel-proof" roof of the feeder, shaking down some birdseed onto the ground below. Then it's back up the wire and down the trunk for a tasty lunch. (Ellen Jameson photos)
"A purple squirrel which appeared at a school has baffled experts who are unable to explain its colour," subheads a recent UK Telegraph report [with thanks to our sis-in-law for the link]. The "expert" quoted wasn't really "baffled," but hey. What's a headline for? At any rate, everyone has a theory, and some of them aren't half bad:
"We don't think he is a mutant squirrel but he may have had a mishap around the school," [said the registrar].
"The old building where we have seen him nipping in and out is a bit of a graveyard for computer printers. He may have found some printer toners in there. We haven't seen any purple baby squirrels yet."
TV wildlife expert Chris Packham believes Pete will moult and lose his purple fur in time for spring. He said: "I have never seen anything like it before. Squirrels will chew anything even if it's obviously inedible. It is possible he has been chewing on a purple ink cartridge and then groomed that colouring into his fur.
[FYI, this is exactly how my plate looked when it arrived yesterday morning. Except for the raisin eye-pupils, which I added in order to provide a “demented” effect.]
Yes, but it's those very artfully placed cockeyed raisins that transform the objet trouvé into a work of art. Plus, like all great art, it contains layers of meaning, sending the mind's eye of the beholder on flights of fancy and self-revelation. For example, give his breakfast a quarter turn, and you're in EXTRA Happy Meal territory:
In the long stretch between breakfast and supper, Tiny visits her late, great brother Babe's aerie of choice, the top of the piano just across the room from where we sit at our computer. As we wrote only last September of our precious, seemingly robust baby boy, "Unconcerned with what talking heads are calling "the mess we're in," GOP (grand old pussycat) leader Baby Cakes shares the platform with the Republican base ("Ivory" elephant memento of our Kenyan Holiday last century). "I have no idea why I bother to take photographs," wrote Elisson not without irony in the comments of our previous Tiny post, "Peaches and cream":
One image of Tiny, and I am completely outclassed, seven ways from Sunday.
Sissy, once again you have taken a beautiful subject and successfully Gilded the Lily.
First a few excerpts then some thoughts on why Santelli's words resonate with the "forgotten man" who is forced to foot the bill for his betters' feel-good social-engineering schemes:
Santelli: The government is promoting bad behavior … How about this, President and new administration … Why don't you put up a web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages …
(Traders in the pit start clapping and cheering.)
Joe Kernen, in studio: They're like putty in your hands …
Santelli: No they're not, Joe. They're not like putty in our hands! This is America! (Turns around to address pit traders.) How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise their hand. (Traders boo. Santelli turns around to face CNBC camera.) President Obama, are you listening?
Trader sitting nearby goes over to Santelli's mike: How about we all stop paying our mortgage? It's a moral hazard …
Santelli: We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I'm going to start organizing.
In FDR's narrative, the forgotten man was the "little fellow … at the bottom of the economic pyramid," Lee Cary explains in "Awaiting the Awakening of the Forgotten Man" at American Thinker. But today's forgotten man is closer to 19th-century Yale professor William Graham Sumner's model of the tax-paying citizen whose productivity provides the pecuniary resources for government charity, the author explains, quoting from Sumner's 1884 essay "On the Case of a Certain Man who Is Never Thought Of":
They therefore ignore entirely the source from which they must draw all the energy which they employ in their remedies … and forgetting that a government produces nothing at all, they leave out of sight the first fact to be remembered in all social discussion — that the state cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man.
The friends of humanity start out with certain benevolent feelings towards "the poor," "the weak,'" "the laborers," and others of whom they make pets. They generalize these classes and render them impersonal, and so constitute the classes into social pets. They turn to other classes and appeal to sympathy and generosity and to all the other noble sentiments of the human heart. Action in the line proposed consists in a transfer of capital from the better off to the worse off …
"Millions of votes cast by the forgotten man helped elect Barack Obama," Cary writes:
Now, less than a month in office, in the wake of the fast, forced-feeding of a gigantic spending bill that no member of Congress is known to have even read, one wonders if any among the forgotten man has awakened to the consequences of what has happened, and will happen …
Most of Sumner's forgotten men and women who voted for Barack Obama, who will pay the expanded interest on the nation's new debt burden, have yet to awaken. A few have. Sadly, some never will. But to many, an awakening will eventually come, after time, and considerable pain. But it will come.
All schemes for patronizing "the working classes" savor of
condescension. They are impertinent and out of place in this free
democracy. There is not, in fact, any such state of things or any such
relation as would make projects of this kind appropriate. Such projects
demoralize both parties, flattering the vanity of one and undermining
the self-respect of the other.
People are never content with bare subsistence — especially if it comes in the form of hand out and charity. It degrades them and robs them of their self-esteem. It is a shameful existence. Men need pride from their own labor. Self-reliance brings personal honor and pride — a sense of ownership over one's own life. This is why the free-market economy is not only an efficient and effective system — it is also a humane and honorable one.
In related news, this happy thought just in from Professor Reynolds:
Update: "Tiny is extremely round. 'Reminds me of birds who puff
out their feathers to insulate themselves," writes our imail
correspondent. "Sort of like this," we i'd back with a link to the above image found in a google image search for "puffed bird." Separated at birth?
1. Using carpenter's glue, bond two sets of two pieces of three-quarter-inch pine together, one for the base, the other for the "sue."
2. With a few skillful turns of band saw, drill press and dremel tool, remove everything that doesn't look like "sue" and drill diagonally up from the bottom and vertically down from the top of the "u" to provide a channel for the cord. In the base, drill halfway down from top and then halfway in from the back to complete the channel. Fine tune with rasps and files.
3. Finish things off with 3 coats of Gesso, wet-sanded, followed by countless coats of water-based high-gloss enamel by Krylon. Total cost of materials: c. $30 (wood was available "free" from shop inventory of leftovers). Total labor: 40 hours. A little gem of a thing.
"Awww. You shouldn't have."
We had provided technical assistance utilizing LinoType's online "Font Finder" and "Create sample" features, scrolling through the "Sans Serif" category to find a face that matched Tuck's original back-of-the-napkin sketch (above). We hit the jackpot with two members of the "Neue Helvetica® Font Family," "85 Heavy" and "86 Heavy Italic,"
using italic for the "s" and "e" and regular for the "u" to get a nice
distribution of positive and negative spaces and the solid vertical
upright that would hold the Home Depot lamp hardware and K-Mart
lampshade. We got the sample into Photoshop for a little cutting and
pasting and size adjustment, and the finished product was astonishingly
close to Tuck's second sketch (upper right).
The wrapping paper itself, printouts of the logo in various colors on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, provided documentation and a witty commentary on the design process. Tuck used his paper shredder to get the reference to the lampshade's fringe along the bottom, and Tiny, sitting atop the printer behind the gift package in the countdown to supper the other afternoon, lent the necessary surrealistic air of mystery to the proceedings.
Tuck looks on with proprietary satisfaction at Saturday presentation ceremonies for the belated Xmas gift Down East, where family members gathered for a Valentine's/Mummy's Birthday luncheon of comfort foods featuring Fanny Farmer's classic Beef Stew with Vegetables — the Bourguignonesque version slow-cooked on the stovetop with red wine and beef stock — freshly baked Pillsbury Italian and vanilla ice cream with addictive Butterscotch Sauce [Mummy's signature Sunday treat way back when]. We made our dessert sauce the old-fashioned way — following the superbly written and illustrated "How to Make Butterscotch" at Simply Recipes: No more corn syrup!
The "card" was a copy of Tuck's working drawings, suitable for framing.
We love the playfulness of the beaded fringe that hangs from the pale ivory lampshade. Let there be light!