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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

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

Monday, November 27

the cultured class

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)...

"But is there a book I can buy?" I hear you ask. What, are you kidding? Of course there's a book! And it has an even more telling title -- which is even more deserving of the bigness treatment:

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.