the unlikely story of how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to believe in signs & portents that would make the middle ages blush

via PayPal...

via Amazon...

this site is a labor of love. i.e., if you love me enough, I'll be able to complete it. send proof of love via buttons above. please. if you can. thanks.







(not obsolete yet)

Google Book Search

July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
November 2009
May 2010
March 2014

Francesco Armando
Tim Boucher
Marc Canter
Michael "OC" Clarke
Hernani Dimantas
Dream's End
Cory Doctorow
Esther Dyson
John Gehl
Dan Gillmor
Mike Golby
Annie Gottlieb
Howard Greenstein
Denise Howell
Joi Ito
Norm Jensen
Hylton Jolliffe
Dean Landsman
Steve Larsen
Madame Levy
wood s lot
Kevin Marks
Massimo Moruzzi
Tom Matrullo
Brian Millar
Eric Norlin
Rev Sam Norton
Frank Paynter
Chris Pirillo
Shelley Powers
JP Rangaswami
Paul Scheele
Connie Schmidt
Doc Searls
Euan Semple
George Sessum
Jeneane Sessum
Halley Suitt
Gaspar Torriero
Gary Turner
The Happy Tutor
Beat Waydown
David Weinberger
Donna Wentworth
Don Williams
Evan Williams
Xanadu Xero

another (maybe easier) way to read the back issues



mystic bourgeoisie 

Powered by Blogger



Enter Book Title or ISBN

New & Used Books - Find the Lowest Price - Compare more than a hundred book stores, 60,000 sellers, in a click.

Locations of visitors to this page

Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Sunday, September 28

wyrd up

The word "worth" is related -- via its Indo-European root -- to "weird."
  • weird, from Old English wyrd, fate, destiny (< "that which befalls one")

I like that. It seems grounded in some unadorned baseline reality. But of course, unadorned baseline realities are rare as hen's teeth these latter days, and "worth" -- like just about everything else -- has morphed into a form of what Marx called exchange value. As in...

businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth.
none of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

Or, maybe more to whatever point may be emerging here, as in Worth magazine. Or as in, what's it worth to you? Or as in, it ain't worth a plug nickel, your while, their salt, a hill of beans, its weight in gold, two in the bush, or the paper it's printed on.

But beans and birds and salt aside, worth has come to mean monetary value. Nowadays it is generally people, not fish, that are weighed in terms of their net worth. And me, out here on Highway 61, all I got's a thousand telephones that don't ring. Do you know where I can get rid of these things?

Never mind that. Rhetorical question. But listen, every time I see this book cover...

...I'm reminded of a slogan once popular in Germany...

Literally, it means "life unworthy of life," a phrase that was popularized by Nazi "eugenics theorists" to characterize the physically weak, the mentally ill -- and of course, the Jews.

Now, whoa! Hold the phone. That's an awfully extreme reading of Positive Psychology, doncha think? Well... consider this: "humanistic" psychologist Abraham Maslow once wrote...

The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.

Motivation and Personality, 1987

Maslow is credited as a source of the "positive psychology" meme (craze is more like it). For instance (quoting myself here, since we're on a Dylan run already, from Positively Fourth Street), in Positive Psychology in Practice, the authors of a paper called "Positive Psychology: Historical, Philosophical, and Epistemological Perspectives" say (p. 17):
...the human being should, as Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi maintain, be conceptualized and understood as a being with inherent potentials for developing positive character traits or virtues. This idea is the core of the actualizing tendency as described by Rogers and self-actualization as described by Maslow. For positive psychology, the concept of good character thus becomes the central concept.
Now it seems to me that when you start out with an aversion to "cripple psychology," then catalog Character Strengths and Virtues in "A Handbook and Classification," as Martin Seligman has done, the time may not be long until those who fall outside such a taxonomy of vibrant smiling health are also catalogued and, who knows, maybe even rounded up. But of course, that can't happen here.

The caption on that site reads:
This poster is from the 1930's, and promotes the Nazi monthly Neues Volk (New People), the organ of the party's racial office. The text reads: "This genetically ill person will cost our people's community 60,000 marks over his lifetime. Citizens, that is your money. Read Neues Volk, the monthly of the racial policy office of the NSDAP."
It is so easy for fate and destiny (if you recall the first graf here) to be recalculated as faults and deficits -- and for the worth of lives thus deemed unworthy to be measured in tax dollars. But of course, that can't happen here either, not in this Culture of Life [caution: not for the squeamish].

Just to recap before pressing on: Seligman is the guy who invented Positive Psychology (and oh yeah, helped design the torture methods used at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib), Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chokin-yer-chicken) is the guy who wrote A Life Worth Living, and Maslow is the guy whose primary mentor was Edward L. Thorndike -- one of the most prominent boosters of eugenics in the United States.

Eugenics... had the support of leaders in academia. E.L. Thorndike and Leta Hollingworth popularized eugenics to generations of prospective classroom teachers.
That quote, by the way, is from an excellent stash of historical background on American eugenics, developed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. This is significant for two reasons:
  1. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, NY, was once the home of the infamous Eugenics Records Office.
  2. The Chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Lab -- and not so incidentally, co-discoverer of DNA, for which he shared a Nobel Prize -- was summarily booted from that institution last Fall for his offhand comments about... well, let's quote from the 25 October 2007 New York Times story, James Watson Retires After Racial Remarks...
James D. Watson, the eminent biologist who ignited an uproar last week with remarks about the intelligence of people of African descent, retired today as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island and from its board.

But of course, it would border on conspiracy theory to see all these oddly connected things as any more than wyrd coincidences.