Saturday, March 05, 2011

Wow...if this isn't alienation I don't know what is...

In the past twelve or so hours,  merely from looking at the blogs & Salon, I saw a quite disturbing viewpoint of how a significant cross-section of Americans view themselves.

First up is P.Z. Myers' wonderful review of David Brooks'  "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement."  I quote:

... I had begun reading it determined to be dispassionate and analytic and fair, but I couldn't bear it for long: I learned to loathe Harold and Erica, the two upscale avatars of upper-middle-class values that Brooks marches through life in the story. And then I began to resent the omniscient narrator who narrates this exercise in unthinking consumption and privilege that is, supposedly, the ideal of happiness; it's like watching a creepy middle-aged man fuss over his Barbie and Ken dolls, posing them in their expensive accessories and cars and houses and occasionally wiggling them in simulated carnal relations (have no worries, though: Like Barbie and Ken, no genitals appear anywhere in the book), while periodically pausing to tell his audience how cool it all is, and what is going on inside his dolls' soft plastic heads. I did manage to work my way through the whole book, however, by an expediency that I recommend to anyone else who must suffer through it. I simply chanted to myself, "Die, yuppie scum, die," when I reached the end of each page, and it made the time fly by marvelously well. In addition, there is a blissful moment of catharsis when you reach the last page and one of the characters does die, although it isn't in a tragic explosion involving a tennis racket, an overdose of organic fair-trade coffee, and an assassination squad of rogue economists at Davos, as I was hoping...

 David Brooks' idea of people, and presumably himself, amounts to cardboard cut-outs or dolls - they lack any of the things that really allow us to have character it seems.

Next up... you  gotta see this to believe it - via Firedoglake, we get a treat to a scene from the movie "Atlas Shrugged Part 1," which  is coming to the big screen, April 15 (but of course).

This is going to be the "Battlefield Earth" of politically themed movies; I can hardly wait for the reviews.  I especially liked the end part - it reminded me so much of  this bit from Monty Python:

The difference is that evidently the "Galt" figure in Atlas Shrugged Part I is playing it so seriously he makes it even funnier.  Seriously though,  the idea that  any  "progressive" charity would request money from a right winger, and stipulate that the right winger do so anonymously is simply ridiculous.  Furthermore,  I like the opportunity to give anonymously - what's wrong with giving anonymously? I'm no Christian but I remember there was some kind of parable about rich being seen as giving means "they already have their reward."  Buddhists have parables about giving too:

Finally, check out this review of Atlas Shrugged, the book:

The idea that there are no other stakeholders in the world other than one's self isn't going to get this young woman very far in life, I'm afraid.


Kyle Lovett said...

How the hell is Atlas Shrugged so popular? I don't get it, humans aren't lone animals, we thrive and strive in groups with cooperation. I mean that isn't political, it's just the way things are. /sigh

Mumon said...


I don't understand why someone would become a Scientologist either. But many folks like being told that it is OK to be selfish.

J said...

Many of PZ's regs seem pretty similar to those in the cult of Ayn. Darwinian evolution describes the natural world quite well--until some reductionist attempts to apply it to all aspects of human existence. Beethoven--or Bodhidharma for that matter--were not merely primates, mumon

( hinduism and early Bu. had something similar to Aristotelian causality...including a final cause-- the dance of Maya a bit too subtle for anglo bottlewasher)