How much have you forgotten about Roman imperial architecture?
I know, I know: what a snotty question, right? Fortunately for us both, it's not mine. Instead, those are the words that will greet you when you load up on a site called (no wait... this is so rich it deserves a big ol' callout on a line of its own)...
Roam confidently with the cultured class. Let's savor that for a moment, shall we? Let it ...breathe... before we decant it.
Then ask yourself, as, naturally, I did: what nefarious depths of misanthropic market research produced this vile abomination? One hardly knows where to begin. However, one could do worse than starting with the first sentence of Author #1's three-sentence page-one bio:
David S. Kidder is an entrepreneur with a wide range of extensive operational, technological, and marketing experience.
In other words, he's a fucking idiot. I mean, who else would be even capable of leading with such world-shaking vacuity? At least Author #2 offers a bit more substance:
He has produced and reported for Scarborough Country and Hardball with Chris Matthews, and his writing has appeared in Esquire, Wall Street Journal, Men’s Health, and The Weekly Standard.
I have emphasized those portions of his text that give us to know that Author #2 is a right-wing scumbag. Not that I feel any particular animus toward the coprophilic sycophants who serve as apologists for the current so-called Administration.
With these bona fides out of the way, let us return to our confident stroll through the happening wine-and-cheese party that is the American -- excuse my guffaw -- Cultured Class. You do realize (don't you?) how closely the phenomenon under our lens at the moment is related to our last outing re The Creative Class and those 50 million Cultural Creatives all dressed up with nowhere to go. Can't dance, too wet to plow, but hey! Why not pick up a couple-a bottles of that nice Chilean Merlot and swing by? We can chat about Corinthian v. Ionic columns. Vestal Virgins. Something. If nothing else, we can get royally hammered. In a confident, cultured-classy sort of way.
As much fun as it is to yank the collective chain of these supremely self-conscious petit bourgeois poseurs with their endless inferiority complexities, that's not the point. At least not the whole point. For example, do not let your paroxysms of mirth cause you to miss the near pathological penance envy on display. To illustrate, here's another bit from the Intellectual Devotional web page...
Millions of Americans keep bedside books of prayer and meditative reflection -- collections of daily passages to stimulate spiritual thought and advancement. The Intellectual Devotional is a secular version of the same...
Nota bene, folks. Here's a hard-headed demographic that ain't takin' no wooden nickels re prayer and spiritual thought, no sir, no way! But who are asking -- evidently in droves demonstrably dense enough (in both senses) that the potential ROI motivated the publication of this book -- "Yeah well... but couldn't we maybe have some like plastic nickels?"
And -- markets being conversations, as we have all learned -- Kidder & Oppenheim heard their humble supplication and responded. On that same web page, the authors even offer some serving suggestions...
Impress your friends by explaining the meaning of Platos' [sic] "Cave Allegory," pepper your cocktail party conversation with opera terms...
Right. Like say you're stuck in traffic in Little Italy and a cab cuts you off. Just sing out "Arpeggiatura, motherfucker!" accompanied by the appropriate Roman finger semiotics -- and be on your way with a new feeling of urbane aplomb. That is, if Luige doan get to you bafore da light changes.
Actually, readers of this very blog were not that long ago treated to my own en passant droppage of a ref to Plato's Cave thing. We rejoin our author (that would be me) in media res, as usual...
This despite the fact that Allan Bloom, "the most well known of his disciples" (here quoting the review) gave us a right-wing jeremiad in 1987 called The Closing of the American Mind -- which I also never read, except to glean that Bloom was fond of Plato. I stopped reading right there because Plato's parable of the cave in The Republic reminds me of the sort of speculation one might get from a bunch of college sophomores sitting around baked on their first experience of smoking pot. "Yeah, yeah! It's like we're in this cave, see, and all we ever get to see is shadows, you know?" Yes, actually, I do know.
And I do, really. It's all so depressingly true. But I guess I ought to wrap this up. I just wanted to point out that not all legitimate members of the class NewAge++ are necessarily going to be into Reiki and aromatherapy and crystal healing. A significant number will indeed eschew that sort of childish nonsense, yet be strangely and strongly attracted to books like The Intellectual Devotional, whose strictly secular affirmations and aphorisms hold out -- and I quote -- "an escape from the daily grind to contemplate higher things."
Higher Things, absolutely. History, Literature, the Fine Arts, how batteries work. Let us bow our heads in a moment of worshipful silence.
Finally, here's a Monday-after-Thanksgiving Bonus Page where you can fire off an MSNBC video of these two Yahoos talking to Matt Lauer about their dimbulb book. The clip includes a nicely executed racist moment -- see if you can spot it -- plus Noah Oppenheim talking about "the main things you need to know not to feel like an idiot." Not looking and sounding like an idiot were evidently covered on another network.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Monday, November 27, 2006
Always on the lookout for better ways to explain my "NewAge++" neologism, I was reminded yesterday of two books I have long meant to mention here. One of them is The Rise of the Creative Class... And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life.
When I first spied this book at Barnes & Noble, I was especially interested because back when I worked at Carnegie Mellon University, I often went to lunch with it's author, Richard Florida, who was then a professor there. He now has a website called...
However, my interest in The Rise of the Creative Class has less to do with its specific contents than with the echo I got from it of a book that had appeared a couple years earlier: The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Aside from my gut hunch, their association is implicated by one of those Amazon "also bought" recommendations. That's circumstantial evidence of any fundamental relationship, to be sure, but dumb bots (in this case, the ones doing the recommending) are great at surfacing reader perceptions of similarity. And that's what I care about here. We are, you could say, reading between the lines between the lines. Call it the birth of a demographic. (Where is D.W. Griffith when you really need him?)
This is not to say that I believe this demographic necessarily reflects some actual state of some actual world. It is more to say that asking "Who's the fairest of them all?" has always been a great marketing ploy if the answer could made to look incontrovertibly like "YOU are!"
Sorry. I couldn't resist the graphical pun, though it has nothing to do with our theme -- unless we consider the United States Department of Justice to be an unsuspected coven of "cultural creatives." Which is probably an unwarranted s-t-r-e-t-c-h. And so, moving on...
The Cultural Creatives book also has its own website, which asks: "So who are the Cultural Creatives?" And it answers:
The Cultural Creatives are 50 million Americans who care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, social justice, and about authenticity, self actualization, spirituality and self-expression. Surprisingly, they are both inner-directed and socially concerned, they're activists, volunteers and contributors to good causes more than other Americans.
As you can see, I've highlighted a handful of my personal favorites.
There's also a page titled Current Writing that points to a PDF of Paul H. Ray (Ph.D.)'s work in progress, titled The New Political Compass. I downloaded it, naturally, and -- listed in a sidebar titled "Six Dimensions of the Wave of Change Analysis" -- found this:
Person-Centered: This dimension is largely unchanged from variables that originally created the Cultural Creatives classification. It is not especially New Age, but rather a mainstream concern for relationships, altruism and idealism, plus a concern for personal development over the whole adult lifecycle that includes both psychology and spirituality.
I have elsewhere written about a similar trope, to wit, "a little New Agey." Here are some prime examples, fresh off Google, verbatim...
Our globalized, "virtual," and hyper-rationalized world is built on denial, the author claims -- denial of the fundamental human connection to nature; a sense of place; and an understanding of the body. In this book, Spretnak explains why the fall of communism and the triumph of capitalism have not come close to establishing a new world order and how, until we face the failure of modernism, nothing will change.
Now, it so happens that I own that book. Following is a clip from the final chapter, "Embracing the Real" (p. 215), after reading which, I nearly threw up. It consists of an imagined dialogue between the author and William Morris, one of the founders of a little 19th century number known in some quarters as Medieval Modernism.
"When the bodymind suffers deep sadness, William, it's held in our tissue, in the cellular memory. And when people go through life... without being touched enough, the bodymind is deprived.... But your bodymind has deep reservoirs of energy, which will rise to flow like rivers through your fourteen channels ... if only the dams and blockage are cleared. Merely by soft pressure, merely by healing touch. May I do this for you ... after all you've done for us?"
Already the tension had gone out of his face. His eyes looked kind but tired, deeply tired. He said he wouldn't mind a little rest and lay down on the sofa... Then I knelt beside him and put my left hand behind his neck. I asked him to close his eyes and placed my other hand below his rib cage. I waited until his chi pulse felt equal to my right and left fingers. Then I moved my right hand to his knee and waited again to feel the balance. In this way I moved from point to point, increasingly assured that William would return to the ages eased.
And so, Dear Reader, with the midsummer night's breeze rising off the river, bringing us the fragrance of flowering vines, we communed ... with body, nature, and place.
emphasis in original
Does it sound to you, Dear Reader -- as it does to me -- like the author gave William Morris (1834-1896) a... handjob?
If you are among the purportedly 50 million "not especially New Age" types who get off on this sort of thing, then hey, buy yourself a cigar, pardner, because you (yes, YOU) are a Cultural Creative!
To quote Mr. Kurtz: "The horror, the horror!"
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Yesterday I finally got the cables out and jump-started the Chief Blogging Officer site, which had been up on blocks for about a year. I started it in 2004 with sponsorship from Highbeam Research, and it contains much that is germane to present concerns here at Mystic B. All the old posts are still available, linked from the left column of the Legacy Archives page.
So, if you've been tracking the convoluted evolution of my thinking here via newsreader (i.e., you didn't get the memo via the mailling list), you might want to pop over to CBO and have a look. Here's a sample from 9 May 2005...
But wait. Didn't I start this with something about spiritualism? Yeah, I'm almost sure I did. Something about Swedenborg, I think,18th century wingnut and inventor of the Swedish meatball. His metaphysical cuisine was sampled by my old pal (not) Ralph Waldo Emerson, who also wrote him up in Representative Men as "The Mystic." Oooh! But this is important, however skeptical I may at first glance (and second, third, ... nth) appear.
Because Emerson -- with that Oversoul baloney he picked up off Radio Free Upanishads via the Bhagavad Gita run through an early prototype of the Enigma machine -- was core to much weirdness that was to follow, including but not limited to the New Thought crowd I wrote about last Friday and... ta-da ...spiritualism. Natch.
Last night I was listening to the election returns on a local station streaming NPR. This has all been documented somewhere else. Point for our purposes here is this: I was looking for that station again when I woke up -- poking around in iTunes for it -- and I found this New Age station by mistake. Naturally, I had to check it out.
When I tuned in, they were playing a cut off Aquaria: A Liquid Blue Trancescape by somebody calls herself Diane Arkenstone. Cut was called The Treasure Caves and it sounded...
It sounds like in the last part of that clip some chick is going, "Now it's become so real..." Yeah, I know what she means. It was already getting way too real for me.
Then this evening as I was slumming around YouTube trying to figure out what happened in that Virginia Senate race, I stumbled onto this. Don't ask how I got from Virginia to the rock-n-roll suburbs of Naked Lunch, but do notice how this tune differs -- in so many ways -- from the track samples called out above...
btw, that's what Keith Richards was doing in 1992, around the same time Tim Berners-Lee was giving the first demo of the World Wide Web at CERN. Seems like just yesterday, don't it?
what's in my heart
come a long way
well since you beat it up
wicked as it seems
just run out of dreams
better of two evils babe
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Thursday, November 09, 2006
His "rehabilitation and recovery" will be overseen by James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. ...the decision to remove Haggard was based on sexual missteps, which the disgraced pastor characterized in his farewell letter as "the darkness ... which finally dominated me."
For a more generalized view of the problem -- and the complete soundtrack -- click here (warning: strong medicine).
walking wounded with a belly
full of pain
and a big bad attitude yeah
we are shaking shadows for that
perfect dark room
where we can do just what we
want to do
there is a place
where we can leave behind
all those simple minds
they would not like
the way we live
when we are all alone
in this house that we call home
you will become my
“All of my questions about Hell were addressed in this simple book. In an upfront, honest, clear, and useful manner Emanuel Swedenborg tells of the conversations that he has had with Devils and Evil Spirits. He does not try to impress, or persuade, he just informs. This book was such a relief.” ~ an Amazon reader-reviewer
Sounds hot, right? Great! In that case, we have many other fine items we'd like to show you, such as the...
“The Lord permits torments in the hells because in no other way can evils be restrained and subdued. The only means of restraining and subduing evils and of keeping the infernal crew in bonds is the fear of punishment. It can be done in no other way; for without the fear of punishment and torment evil would burst forth into madness, and everything would go to pieces, like a kingdom on earth where there is no law and there are no penalties.”
Emanuel Swedenborg Heaven and Hell
Chapter 60, "The Malice and Heinous Artifices of Infernal Spirits"
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Monday, November 06, 2006
Some believers call the city the... "evangelical Vatican," a phrase that says much both about the city and about the easeful orthodoxy with which the movement now views itself.... Evangelical activist groups ("parachurch" ministries, in the parlance) in Colorado Springs number in the hundreds.... Most prominent among the ministries is Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family, whose radio programs (the most extensive in the world, religious or secular), magazines, videos, and books reach more than 200 million people worldwide.
Dobson famously outed SpongeBob SquarePants in January, 2005. His (i.e., Dobson's) move to Colorado Springs was the signal event that magnetized so many other evangelical groups to do likewise.
Our first stop was in Colorado Springs at a lovely institution known to the world as Focus on the Family .... everything changes once you get to the bookstore -- the otherwise friendly veneer of children's games and parenting advice gives way to the impressive intolerance of this organization. Here is a collage containing some examples of interesting books to be found in the store.
I have added links. Click on any book cover for further information about its contents.
“Haggard and his wife will undergo a lengthy restoration process under the guidance of prominent spiritual leaders, including Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson. The process, which could take years, will include a more comprehensive examination of Haggard’s alleged misdeeds, and will include polygraph tests.”
And from our "What A Difference a Week Makes" department, this just in...
Prepare the Way for God to Choose You - Ted Haggard Sunday Oct 29, 2006 - 9:00 am “Father, we pray that lies would be exposed.
We pray that deception would be exposed.
Father, we pray that wisdom would come upon our electorate...
and, Lord, that we would be a model for the whole world...”
For a good time, run that while playing the Offspring vid, below. The sermon is quite long, but you might want to listen at least till he quotes from 1 Samuel 16:1: "Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way." Prophecy at its finest!
And before this gets removed from his site, I grabbed the following screen shot. It obviously doesn't list the "best" press he's ever had.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Saturday, November 04, 2006