GIVING UP, GAINING, AND BEING REBORN (as a REAL HUMAN BEING) AGAIN
Over the past few years and up until recently (within the past few weeks) I have given up a number of things. As a result I have gained immensely in numerous other ways and, to be honest, I feel as if I have been reborn as a kid (teenager to my early twenties). Psychologically that is. And in my worldview and in my mental and behavioral outlook upon Life (and Death) and upon many other things as well – such as Work and Achievement and Enterprise and Industry.
Physically I am approaching 55 years old but the vast majority of the time I feel (in my body and how I can use it) like I’m about 30 years old.
Here are some of the things I have given up and what I have gained as a result:
Video games (gave them up years and years ago), haven’t missed them at all, they were a huge time-suck. Gain: Productive use of my time and an absolute revulsion for escapist entertainment. Feeling of being a kid again. To replace that kind of passive, escapist entertainment I took up real recreations again, including, but not limited to playing wargames and RPGs and board games with real people.
Cell Phone: as my family and friends will tell you I only use it for emergency and business communications. Or to take pics if I am vadding. I am untrackable otherwise and never turn it on. My wife and kids and even friends spent years trying to convince me to get one. But I’ve never liked the God-damned thing. (It is one of those pieces of modern technology that I can honestly hear God saying, “ah, that’s a real piece of infiltrating demonic shit son, and will only lessen your ability to truly Live, not enhance it. Burn the damned thing.” I can easily hear Christ saying that too, as an off-hand remark.) It has always revolted me. The idea of being traceable is also disgusting and unmanly to me. Nevertheless I keep it to please my wife and kids and for security reasons. Gain: Not using it or activating it means I always enjoy the Real World far more. I observe closely and easily all that goes on around mem as is my natural inclination. I haven’t had an auto-accident in over thirty years. Though I have avoided many. Time means nothing to me. I go where I wanna go and do what I wanna do. I talk constantly to strangers when travelling, often engage in and initiate conversations, or am engaged in or others initiate conversations with me. Nobody will bother talking to ya, nor do you bother meeting new people if you have a fucking phone stuck to your face all of the time or you’re so damned rude you think it more important than the actual people you’re in the company of. I don’t care for those shitheads and most others don’t either. Who would?
Eating: I gave up eating (doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my food, just don’t need much of it) any more than I really need to in order to sustain myself and to grow myself or repair damage during training. Gain: less weight, leaner, more muscle, better health, more energy, easy to fast.
Sugar: aside from chocolate (usually semi-sweet form) I take in none. Gain:Better energy, rarely tired (I can go to bed at midnight or one, arise at five or six AM and be good all day. Better health, hormone, and metabolic regulation. Rarely sick, injuries don’t bother me nearly as much as they used too. Rare pain unless I over-exert myself clearing land or training or boxing. Quicker recovery.
Soda:Gain:same as above for sugar. No advantages of any kind for sodas or processed sugar.
Bread:Gain: same as above. Occasionally I’ll eat flatbread or unleavened bread or antique breads.
Coffee: I drink this still, but very rarely now. Gain: better energy and metabolic self-regulation.
Junk Food: gave that shit up a long time ago. Gain: rarely sick, not fat, good diet and nutrition, take no meds of any kind (you’d be surprised how this shocks modern doctors and nurses and surgeons), good energy, train easily, little to no exhaustion, no desire to eat it. Taking in eating as a whole (diet, sugar, soda, bread, less consumption) my body is far better off, my mind is clear and alert, my concentration is superb, I dream and recall my dreams better, and my attitude is positive, optimistic, and happy.
Politics:gave this up about a six months or so ago. Aside from the necessary evils of my political duties (to thwart this world becoming a modern liberal, socialistic, Islamic, communistic, impoverished, tyrannical hellhole) I could give a shit less about politics and take no notice of it. Gain:nothing but positive, especially on my outlook and optimism. Also I got out of that modern, effeminate, unmanly, pussified habit of just talking about problems and politics ad infinitum (instead of acting on them) as if “consciousness raising” or “internet awareness” were some kind or form of valid problem solving. What a self-deluding, unmanly pussy pursuit. It is the political and social equivalent of modern Christians who say, “I’ll pray,” but never left their hands or can’t be bothered to actually do anything. So I’m glad to be shed of that shit.
TV: gave up watching TV. Sent back DirectTV receiver and don’t watch local channels (haven’t done that for decades) and eliminated Netflix, etc. Gain: Don’t miss it. At all. Time I would have spent on that shit now goes to far more important things (like traveling, spending time with family, clearing land, my Work and Career, new start-ups, making submissions, networking, exploring, vadding, hanging out with friends, etc.) I also now spend a lot of time with my kids, cuddling and showing affection to my wife, more sex with her, etc. My self-education program flourishes. I stargaze more. My language acquisition programs have improved and advanced. Very much like being a kid again when I never watched TV. I was always far too busy doing things, learning things, having fun, and enjoying myself instead.
News: I gave up watching all TV news some time back. Gain:Happy, optimistic, not bothered by modern bullshit, not obsessed by disaster, doom, or politics (next to criminal and terrorist activity and entertainment and crack-whoring the lowest of all forms of human enterprise). Far less distraction.
Introversion: gave up any idea at all that I am a natural introvert. Yes, when it comes to Work I prefer to work alone, and always have, and likely to some degree always will. But with the kids now in college and having a free hand to maneuver my extroverted side has reasserted itself vigorously. So I have gone back to being what is my natural and true inclination, an Ambivert. When working I am still basically an introvert, but when out in public or otherwise I am very much an extrovert, as my wife and kids can tell you. Gain: Immense.
Worrying About Money, or giving a shit about it: gave this up maybe two or three years ago. Something like that. Gain: better marriage, better family, increases in income, more time on Work and Career, easier money and time management, more saving and investments, more entrepreneurialism. Instead of giving a shit about money I now just say to myself: “what are my real momentary and monetary priorities, and knowing those I’ll get the money and constantly (over time) increase my income and Wealth.” If it is not really a priority then I don’t care one way or another. I am neither enslaved by lack of money, nor impressed by having it. And I feel more and more, even absolutely confident, that I will become incredibly wealthy over time. But I don’t give a shit for money other than what I can use it to do. (Build things, advance my career, take care of others, start businesses, invest, do charity and philanthropy, engage in science – do important things in the world.) Aside from what it allows me to do I am completely Stoic and entirely unconcerned about money. And I Sleep like a baby.
Professional Sports: I gave up watching professional sports decades ago, (almost three decades now) and college sports not long after that (reminds me far too much of pro sports). To me they are merely vastly overpaid, spoiled, self-absorbed entertainers, and also they tend to be primarily urbanized Europeans in their mindsets (probably the result of nearly all pro-sport teams being located in big and degenerate cities, big city people never really understand just how naturally corrupting their urbanized environments and mindsets make them, but the corruption is deep even if rarely realized). I do not admire or respect most professional athletes and as far as their thin and anemic contributions to society I rank those right up there with other professional entertainers. Which means I don’t rank them very high at all. Not as a profession anyway, individuals vary, of course. I do not consider most to be manly in their natures at all. When a damned professional football game or team takes ten minutes to run a single play because of time outs and clock delays and men have to reset in huddle for an interminable time period lest they break a real sweat (or anything else) then to me that is the very height of pussydom and unmanliness, not sport. And there is nothing “professional” about that. That is the very opposite of professional when it comes to sport – which should be a test not only of skill, strength and of power, but of endurance, speed, toughness, reflexes, drive, determination, and exhaustion, and the effort to overcome weakness. It isn’t any of those things anymore, it is an effeminate attempt to appear impressive yet preserve and coddle and overcompensate “assets” for purposes of entertainment. Also I won’t even bother to mention the effeminate nature of the politics that now also infect all professional and collegiate sports top to bottom. But I will say this, the modern politics of professional sports is the result of the decades long slide into effeminacy, over-concern with money and profit, and the obsession with appearance, not performance – or in other words, the effeminacy and unprofessionalism is not the result of the politics. That’s just a late stage symptom (and hopefully a terminal one). First came the decline in the full range of athleticism, then came the resulting political corruption, not the other way around. So instead I indulge myself in personal and amateur athletics– climbing, hiking in pack, weight-lifting, running (a little, not so much after I broke my wrist), boxing, exploring, outdoor activities, clearing land, using my axes and hatchets, etc. I will however watch little league baseball, or kids play soccer, rugby, football, baseball, etc. Because they are enjoying it just as sport, and as fun, and because they aren’t clogged and cluttered with endless rules and endorsements. Gain: great advantages to my own health, no time, money, or effort wasted on these meaningless distractions, and far better uses of my recreational activities.
Social Media and most of the Internet: aside from business purposes or aside from the fact of someone mentioning me on social media (don’t wanna be rude) or something truly important happening I don’t comment on it, respond to it, give a shit about it or use it. Social media might take two minutes out of my day, usually just to scan and make sure distant family and friends are okay. Many days, sometimes weeks go by, and I don’t bother to look at it. Also I am now far more naturally skeptical or anything and everything I see on the internet nowadays and many things tend to amuse rather than bother me.Gain:how do I list them, or how many can I possibly name? All that pointless, wasted time is now free for me to do as I wish, want, desire, or need. To spend on far more important things. And most everything in life is far, far more important. (Looking back upon it objectively now one of the worst sins of the baby-boomers was laying the groundwork for whole generations growing up on this bullshit and thinking it normal. Pathetic. Even bathetic. I hope one day when you kids grow past this pointless shit, and give it up too, you will forgive us… we really did a number on you. Not to mention ourselves.)
Other Things I have Gained as a Complimentary Result of my Revolt against all this Modern Bullshit: I spend more time with God, more time improving myself, I have more time to practice Christian Theurgy, more time for charity and philanthropic work, I spend more time praying and in meditation, more time at philosophy, and languages, more time writing (poetry, novels, articles, short stories, songs), more time learning music and playing guitar and piano, have more time for physical training, more time for inventing, I have gone back to the practice of Raja Yoga, more time playing wargames and gaming with people (RPGs etc.), more time with family, more time travelling, more time making new friends (in person, not on internet), more time outdoors and in nature, more time to pursue my more obscure interests and experiments, and I could probably go on and on in this vein.
In short, I haven’t lost a thing. Instead by giving up all of that otherwise unimportant, petty, modern shit and by fully enjoying the naturally resulting Gains thereof I am living like my ancestors, ancient ancestors, and a like Real Human Being again.
I have returned to a 1970s lifestyle and I haven’t been this happy since I was a teen and in my early twenties.
Over the past few years I have given up video and computer gaming, the phone (I only use my phone to take pictures, necessary business calls, take security text from my children, and I have a program which mimics a tricorder with which I take electromagnetic readings, use as a compass, etc. when exploring or traveling – otherwise I don’t use my phone and never use it or answer it in public) all professional sports (actually I haven’t watched professional sports in decades really), watching the news, any kind of car communications, and recently I have given up all social media (other than my blogs) and most of the use of my computer and the internet (except for professional reasons).
Also other than the bare minimum (as a necessary evil) I take no interest in or notice of politics, for politics is, without any doubt at all, the single lowest of all human occupations and interests (aside from criminal activity, terrorism, and that kind of thing).
As soon as the kids both get back into college (in about another month) the wife and I have been discussing giving up TV altogether too.
So, instead of that meaningless crap, I do these things: I explore, I travel, I work and write (by hand mostly, in manuscript form and have others type it), I read (even more so than before), I research and when I need to do research I do it in libraries not on the internet, I hike, I pray, I meditate and talk with God a lot, I practice Raja Yoga again, I practice Christian Theurgy (more and more successfully I might add), I invent, I discover, I conduct scientific experiments, I engage in business projects, I invest, I practice charity and philanthropy, I market and submit my work, I spend time designing my new mansion, I build my wealth, I socialize a lot, I watch little league baseball and soccer games played by kids, I build my networks, I explore churches and old buildings, I vad, I visit other cities and towns and universities and many libraries, I add to my personal library, I write poetry, I listen to and compose music, I write songs and am learning to play the guitar, I practice playing the piano, I spend time with my pets and family and children, I improve and work on my marriage (which is already good, but only gets batter over time), I play D&D and wargames (I actively recreate rather than engage in passive entertainments), I learn new languages, I work on my math, I make useful observations, I build things, I weight lift and train, I clear land (by hand mostly, though I do have new chainsaws), I meet new people (almost every day), I adventure and have fun, and most of all I enjoy the living hell out of myself. (Or Heaven even, depends on how you wanna phrase it.)
As a result I am extremely happy. And I am deeply at peace. And I am supremely confident and satisfied. Not complacent or content, I have many ambitions yet to fulfill in life – but for the moment I am highly satisfied and truly grateful.
I have come to understand that so many of the technologies and conveniences and the overall “lifestyle” (if, indeed, it can be called truly living) of modern life are designed (either intentionally or unintentionally) to entrap and suck the Real Life from you – body, mind, soul, and spirit. And that deeply repulses me. I have a natural revulsion of man-traps.
So, I have returned to the lifestyle I so much enjoyed back n the 1970s. And in some ways I also practice a lifestyle very similar to that of the Medieval and Ancient ages as well. I live partly as an inventor, partly as a poet, partly as a scientist, partly as a householder, husband, and father, partly
And it enthralls and enthuses and elates me.
I will therefore not be returning to the “modern lifestyle” or to being a “modern man.” (Not that I ever really was a modern man.) Both are ugly and infantile, impotent and morose, and mostly useless. Both are harbingers of death and unhappiness, not Life, Satisfaction, and Achievement.
So to hell with and fuck em both.
For the rest of my Life I will be myself instead and do things exactly as I desire to do them. Which has been most of the course of my life anyway, but for a while I let the modern world make me forget that. To distract me with its empty toys and to try to convince me of its pathetic and deceptive values.
But to fix that I’m burying that skeletal sonuvabitch right now.
And I won’t be digging him back up. Not ever again…
The typical answers are “taxation without representation” and the economic and political consequences that came with that.
My guest today argues that while economic and political principles all played roles in the American Revolution, there’s one big thing underlying all the causes of the Revolutionary War that often gets overlooked: honor.
His name is Craig Bruce Smith, he’s a historian and the author of the new book American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals During the Revolutionary Era. Today on the show we talk about what honor looked like in America during the colonial period, how that concept changed, and how this shift precipitated the War of Independence. We then explore how personal affronts to honor experienced by several of the Founding Fathers at the hands of the British transferred into a feeling of being slighted as a people, galvanizing a collective sense of honor in the colonies and inspiring the fight for independence. We then discuss the role honor played in Benedict Arnold’s treason and how his treachery spurred colonial Americans to go on to win the war. We end our conversation discussing why the sons of the Revolutionary Era returned to a more traditional ethos of honor in the form of dueling.
This show will give you fresh insights on the founding of America.
What was the concept of honor before the Revolutionary Era?
What change in that concept did we start seeing before the war?
Benjamin Franklin’s idea of ascending honor
How Washington’s concept of honor became more democratized over time
The relationship between honor and virtue/ethics in this time period
How the colonists looked to Ancient Rome as an example
Higher education and the founders
How did personal slights lead to the Revolution?
The birth of a collective, national honor
The “buy local” and “made in America” movement of the 1770s
Why honor doesn’t depend on victory
Benedict Arnold, honor, and his role in early America
The history of dueling in early America, and when it came to an end
The myths and realities of Andrew Jackson’s dueling resume
The 71-year-old was found unresponsive by police around 4 p.m. Tuesday after they responded to his home for a well-being check. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Foul play is not suspected at this time.
“A preliminary investigation indicates that Geils died of natural causes,” police said in a statement.
The J. Geils Band was founded in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts, while Geils, whose full name was John Warren Geils Jr., was studying mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Geils served as the band’s guitarist and vocalist. Bandmates included Danny Klein, Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz, Stephen Jo Bladd, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman.
The band, whose music blended blues rock, R&B, soul and pop, released 11 studio albums and built a large following due to their energetic live shows as well as their unusual use of the harmonica as a lead instrument. The band broke up in 1985, but reunited off and on over the years.
The group had several Top 40 singles in the early 1970s, including a cover song “Lookin’ for a Love” by the family group The Valentinos and “Give It to Me.”
Their biggest hits included “Must of Got Lost,” which reached No. 12 on Billboard’s Top 100 in 1975 and “Love Stinks,” a humorous rant against unrequited love, the title song of their 1980 album. Their song “Centerfold,” from the album “Freeze Frame” was released in 1981 and eventually charted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in February 1982. It stayed there for six weeks and was featured on MTV.
The band was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the fourth time last fall but once again was not selected as part of the 2017 class.
“This is our fourth nomination, and going through that process, with its inherent disappointment, you’re not sure you want to take that ride again,” lead vocalist Peter Wolf told Billboard at the time. “It’s great to be recognized, but it’s a drag to be disappointed. I hope that we make it in. That would be great.”
When news of Geils’ death broke, fans turned to social media to offer condolences and to reminisce about the band’s songs and concerts.
Geils has called Groton his home for 35 years.
Wolf wrote a short message on Facebook about his former bandmate, “Thinking of all the times we kicked it high and rocked down the house! R.I.P Jay Geils.”
WCVB’s Chronicle profiled Peter Wolf several months ago. Watch below:
That’s when you’re attempting to lift something off your mark and he suddenly spots ya, calls in the embassy guards, and all hell breaks loose.
Or variantly, when you’re trying to get away from the embassy (because you just boosted something valuable off the foreign ambassador) and your reins break, your horse spits his bit, and then throws you to boot.
1) to obtain especially by devious or irregular means. 2) take (something) for oneself, typically quickly or without permission. 3) (on a bridle) a simple bit, typically a jointed one, used with a single set of reins.
Etymology: mid 16th century (denoting a bridle bit): probably from Low German or Dutch; compare with Middle Low German and Middle Dutch snavel ‘beak, mouth’ The verb (mid 19th century) is perhaps a different word.
I have a far, far greater interest in becoming a Hero, a Genius, and a Saint than I will ever have in being a hippie and protester, an academic or intellectual, or a modern Christian.
For the Hero is memorable and necessary, the Genius is original and useful, and the Saint is, ultimately, the one and only kind of Indispensable Man (or woman).
By contrast the hippie is, far more often than not, an utterly naïve fool, the protestor usually self-absorbed, the academic regularly specious, the intellectual mostly inutile, and the contemporary Christian of the West is, of course, an entirely modern invention.
Had a friend who said, “this is the face of evil.”
It also looks suspiciously like a polymerized death-mask. Or android skin grown from a synthetic iguana. I suspect if you cut into his face that rather than bleeding blood he’d slowly seep an embalming solution, turpentine, servo-fluid, or maybe a black Hydra ichor.
Personally I think the actual truth lies somewhere in the middle between the hyper-life of the modern technologist and the future will be bleak anti-technologist. It depends almost entirely on not only what man invents but how he chooses to actually employ his inventions/technology.
That being said I am a firm anti-Utopian. I do not believe in the human utopia (not socialistic, not economic, not technological or scientific, etc.) , either that it is possible, or desirable. It is a badly conceived, utterly juvenile and naive, and entirely impractical idea.
By the way, in listening to him, I can’t help but wonder if Nicholas Carr is not in some way related to Caleb Carr one of my favorite contemporary fiction writers.
A few weeks ago, I had futurist Kevin Kelly on the podcast to discuss the technological trends that are shaping our future. From driverless cars to artificial intelligence that will make new scientific discoveries, Kevin paints a fairly rosy picture of what’s to come.
My guest today sees a different side of the coin, and argues that the future envisioned by many in Silicon Valley is, well, kind of creepy.
His name is Nicholas Carr, and he’s the author of several books that critique the wide-eyed utopianism of technologists. In his book The Shallows, he reported on the research that shows how Google is making us dumber; in The Glass Cagehe explored the science on why outsourcing our work and chores to computers and robots might actually make us miserable and unsatisfied in life; and in his latest book, Utopia is Creepy, Carr pulls together all the essays he’s written over the years on how the rapid changes in technology we’ve seen in the past few decades might be robbing us of the very things that make us human.
Today on the show, Nicholas and I discuss why he thinks our utopian future is creepy, how the internet is making us dumber, and why doing mundane tasks that we otherwise would outsource to robots or computers is actually a source of satisfaction and human flourishing. We finish our discussion by outlining a middle path approach to technology — one that doesn’t reject it fully but simultaneously seeks to mitigate its potential downsides.
Why the ideology that Silicon Valley is promoting and selling is bad for human flourishing
How the frictionless ideal of tech companies isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
Why is the idea of utopia so creepy?
Why don’t tech companies see that what they’re doing can be perceived as creepy?
The illusion of freedom and autonomy on the internet
What “digital sharecropping” is and why it exploits content creators
The myth of participation and the pleasures of being an audience member
Information gathering vs developing knowledge
Why Nicholas doesn’t use social media
The real danger that AI present humanity (and it’s not necessarily the singularity)
Is virtual reality going to catch on? Does it present any problems for society?
How can we opt out of the ideology that Silicon Valley is trying to sell?
If you’re a bit leery of technology like myself, then you’ll definitely enjoy all of Nicholas’ books. Utopia Is Creepy gives you a big picture look at all of Nick’s ideas on the often overlooked downsides of our unquestioned adoption of digital technology. Pick up a copy on Amazon.
Footage has emerged of Foo Fighters lynchpin Dave Grohl listening to the first song he ever recorded on his own 27 years ago.
Dave wrote the song ‘Gods Look Down’ as a fresh-faced 20-year-old way back in 1989 for his hardcore punk act Scream. It eventually appeared on their 1993 swansong record ‘Fumble’, released when Dave was in a certain band called Nirvana.
In a newly unveiled outtake from Foo Fighters’ 2014 HBO series Sonic Highways, Dave and Foo Fighters producer Barrett Jones cast their ears on a version of ‘Gods Look Down’ Dave recorded on his own featuring solely his vocals and instrumentation.
With the pair sitting at the mixing desk, the footage shows the instruments slowly kicking in before Dave isolates his more high-pitched vocals and recoils in horror.
“I sound like a girl,” he says to a laughing Jones. “I don’t think my balls had dropped yet.”
Watch the footage here:
With a string of European and US festival dates already locked in, Foo Fighters are reportedly laying down their ninth studio album this year.
Forced to cancel their 2015 slot at Glastonbury when Dave Grohl fractured his leg, it’s widely predicted they will be joining Radiohead at Worthy Farm this coming June.
Out of the “great cities and sprawling urban centers” arise most of the plagues, wholly avoidable disasters, entirely degenerate ideas, unnecessary wars, vapid cultures, weird religions and pathetic self-worshiping idols, bizarre theories, corrupt societies, criminal enterprises, ridiculous examples of fanatical human behavior, tyrannical governments, and mindless, violent herds and mobs that have ever most destructively afflicted the entire Race of Man.
It has always been this way, it will always be that way.
Individually and in small groups man is a wonder, a marvel, a charitable and just being, courageous, productive and capable, clean, pious, truthful, hard-working, often wise and perhaps even, on occasion, a true genius. Just a little lower than the angels, but often even far more humble.
Collectively and in large numbers he is naive, a patsy and a dupe, a tribalist, a socially warped and serfish coward, self-indulgent and self-destructive, degenerate, arrogant, criminalistic, easily manipulated, lazy, a fool, and very often something of an animal. Lower than a beast, for sure, but more desperate and diseased than a virus.
Uninterrupted time with God is far better spent discussing not your own problems, but rather the miracle of the way he has ordered everything. For in the ordering of the Universe lies not only the solution to your own small problems, but the Clue and the Key to His Own Nature, which is the way everything works when it works as it should.
Seek God as He truly is and you will also discover everything else as it was meant to be. Seek only to discuss yourself with God and that is all you will learn of. And in such a huge universe of such infinite potential that is a very small subject indeed.
It is far wiser most of the time to put yourself aside and ask God what He can teach you about everything else. In this way not only will you learn of Him, but also you will learn what you are, and more importantly, you will learn why you are.
On the other hand, it is not truly possible to understand God’s Nature by concentrating upon your own. The man who seeks God will find both God and himself, and everything else for that matter, whereas the man who seeks himself alone will find himself alone. Seek not yourself but those Frontiers well beyond you where God dwells. In this way you will have a home and a Guide no matter where you wander.
Therefore, ask not what God can do for you, ask rather what God is, and what He has made you capable of discovering, and doing. Then for God’s sake, and especially for your own, do it.
LORD CHRIST, SAVE ME FROM THE SELF-PROCLAIMED “ENLIGHTENED”
I listened to her interview on the radio as well.
This about says it all: ““Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead of you in line,” Hochschild writes. “But it’s people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. . . . You’ve heard stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy.”
Oh my Lord Christ. No they haven’t and I don’t feel either uneasy or angry about anyone. Except for how they actually behave.The only people I’ve ever heard say tribal crap like this are liberals… who think they understand Conservatives… and secularists who think they understand Christians… and black liberals who think every decision made by someone else is first and foremost some kind of disguised and nefarious decision made about black liberals… or about blacks in general…
You’re so fucking elitistly hypocritical and disgustingly and backwardsly tribal you can’t even understand that you’re so fucking elitist and tribal that no one gives a shit what you think anymore. I’d just as soon see you abjectly weeping in your safe zone as running anything about this nation or the world.
I have kids to protect, and one day, grandchildren. I’m not interested in your “elevated navel-gazing,” or your petty race and class and sex and group sociological and self-sophisticated socialist obsessions. I’m not interested in your fucking race or class or sex or educational level and I’m both disgusted that you think I should spend all of my time thinking about them and repulsed by the fact that you’re so fucking petty that those things are your first, last, and middle thoughts. Fuck em all, your race, your sex, your class, your profession, and all of those pretentious petty tribal things can go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned and as far as most people I know are concerned. So here’s a thought for you sunshine – you’re just a fucking modern pseudo-intellectual with no plans to achieve anything real or important in life so you waste yours obsessed with ideals of never-ending socialist dystopias and endless rounds of sensitivity training. Yeah, I’ll pass ladies. I’ve wasted more than enough of my time and life and resources on you.
No, I don’t want to “understand you.” No, I don’t want to be “understood by you.” I just want you out of my way and out of the way of my children and family and friends. Life is more important than you modern libbies. It’s more important than me too. I know you don’t understand either one of those things. That’s precisely why you are a pseudo-intellectual and a pre-programmed modern liberal. But guess what? I’ve reached the point where it doesn’t concern me in the least.
Nor do I need to be protected from my own values, beliefs, words, or thoughts. By any of you enlightened types.
I have absolutely no fear at all of what you think of me. Or anyone or anything else.
More to the point I could absolutely care less… I am completely apathetic to you. I don’t hate you, I don’t fear you, I simply don’t care.
I’ve outgrown you entirely.
I’ve moved on to far more important things than what you think about what I think.
And trust me, you have absolutely no idea of what I think.
A sign supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in St. Amant, La., on August 21. (REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)
STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
By Arlie Russell Hochschild
The New Press. 369 pp. $27.95
The white working class is so hot right now.
When we look back on the 2016 presidential contest, we’ll recognize a moment when the beliefs and material conditions of low-income white Americans were deemed worthy of popular fascination, cable-news hits and nonstop cultural deconstruction. Are these people prejudiced or just frustrated? Economically victimized or culturally ostracized? Anti-elites or anti-everything? Let hot takes roll down like waters, and condescension like an everlasting stream.
Three new books, works that were set in motion long before Donald Trump declared his love for America’s poorly educated, try to go deeper, with varying success. “White Trash,” by historian Nancy Isenberg, explains how poor whites have been mistreated and disparaged over some 400 years, the blame for their plight invariably falling elsewhere. “Hillbilly Elegy,” by lawyer J.D. Vance, admonishes the poor to shape up and take responsibility for their fate; it’s less an elegy than an assault, though one bubble-wrapped in a bootstraps memoir of the author’s American Dream, from Appalachian destitution to the Gothic arches of Yale Law School. And now “Strangers in Their Own Land,” by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, is the latest and most frustrating of this trilogy.
(The New Press)
Hochschild made 10 trips to southwestern Louisiana from 2011 to 2016, extended forays away from her perch at the University of California at Berkeley, to delve into her “keen interest in how life feels to people on the right — that is, in the emotion that underlies politics. To understand their emotions,” she writes, “I had to imagine myself in their shoes.” She interviewed some 60 people, including 40 professed tea party supporters, visiting their homes, communities and workplaces. It is the same technique Hochschild employed in “The Second Shift” (1989), a well-reviewed lookat how couples manage duties at home when both work outside of it. In this case, however, Hochschild arrives with so many preconceived ideas that they undercut the insight she claims to desire.
Hochschild preps for her conservative immersion by reading “Atlas Shrugged,” because we know tea party types are into that. “If Ayn Randappealed to them, I imagined, they’d probably be pretty selfish, tough, cold people, and I prepared for the worst,” this acclaimed sociologist writes. “But I was thankful to discover many warm, open people who were deeply charitable to those around them.”
A revealing survey of the generation that could swing the vote in this election.
When she lands in Louisiana, Hochschild realizes, “I was definitely not in Berkeley, California. . . . No New York Times at the newsstand, almost no organic produce in grocery stores or farmers’ markets, no foreign films in movie houses, few small cars, fewer petite sizes in clothing stores, fewer pedestrians speaking foreign languages into cell phones — indeed, fewer pedestrians. There were fewer yellow Labradors and more pit bulls and bulldogs. Forget bicycle lanes, color-coded recycling bins, or solar panels on roofs. In some cafes, virtually everything on the menu was fried.”
Dear God, no yellow Labs or solar panels? How do you live?
Through Hochschild’s time in Lake Charles, La., and nearby cities and small towns, readers meet people who complicate our oversimplified “whither white America” moment. Especially memorable are Lee Sherman, who repaired pipes carrying lethal chemicals and drained toxic waste illegally into nearby waterways before becoming an environmentalist and, yes, a tea party supporter; and the Areno family, disagreeing over the benefits and risks of local industries, even as they watched turtles go blind and cows die from drinking polluted water. They are the strength of the book, yet Hochschild interrupts their stories to place everything in a formulaic big-picture context, a capitalized and italicized theory of the right. The author, we learn, hopes to scale the Empathy Wall and learn the Deep Story that can resolve the Great Paradox through a Keyhole Issue. These contrivances guide, and ruin, this book.
“An empathy wall,” Hochschild lectures, “is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs.” The author has traveled to the South to conquer that wall, and she constantly refers to it. “As I was trying to climb this slippery empathy wall, a subversive thought occurred to me,” she says at one point. Or when she doesn’t quite get another person’s thinking, she feels “stuck way over on my side of the empathy wall.”
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Beyond the wall awaits the deep story. “A deep story is a feels-as-if story — it’s the story feelings tell, in the language of symbols,” Hochschild writes. “It removes judgment. It removes fact.” The deep story she unearths in Louisiana is that tea party supporters — “my Tea Party friends,” she always calls them, because only liberals rate pure, modifier-free friendship — see the American Dream as a line that they’re patiently waiting in, only to see others cut in front. “Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead of you in line,” Hochschild writes. “But it’s people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. . . . You’ve heard stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy.”
The deep story helps Hochschild unpack the great paradox: that is, why people living in a region with such poor economic, educational and health indicators — and Louisiana struggles in all of them — still support politicians who call for reducing federal help in those arenas. Hochschild peers at the paradox through a keyhole issue: environmental protection. “Everyone I talked to wanted a clean environment,” she writes, and she spends much of the book chronicling the harm the oil and gas industry has wrought in the area. We learn of the industrial contamination of the Bayou d’Inde waterway, where the Areno family lived for generations, and of the massive Bayou Corne Sinkhole, which swallowed up 37 acres as earthquakes and ooze emanated from the ground, thanks to the screw-ups of a Houston-based drilling company. So why rally for politicians who want to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency?
Turns out, many people Hochschild spoke to simply don’t trust environmental authorities, often with good reason. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources had known of the risks involved in Bayou Corne but had given out drilling permits anyway, Hochschild writes. She also describes the guidelines state health authorities had provided on how to eat contaminated fish. “Trimming the fat and skin on finfish, and removing the hepatopancreas from crabs, will reduce the amount of contaminants in the fish and shellfish,” they advised, featuring handy drawings of how to cut away the yucky parts.
When this is your experience of regulation, the great paradox loses greatness. But Hochschild continues her quest, concluding that tea party supporters grow to hate government because of religious faith, opposition to progressive taxes and the perceived “loss of honor” government imposes. She groups her tea party friends into reductionist categories that sound like they were dreamed up in the faculty lounge: the Team Players, loyal to business; the Worshippers, with their capacity for “meaningful renunciation,” forgoing clean lakes in exchange for steady employment; the Cowboys, who equate risky work with progress and scoff at wimpy regulators.
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Hochschild’s subjects are frustrated by the empowerment of new voices in American identity politics. “For the Tea Party around the country,” she writes, “the shifting moral qualifications for the American Dream had turned them into strangers in their own land, afraid, resentful, displaced, and dismissed by the very people who were, they felt, cutting in line.”
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Then Hochschild attends a Trump rally in New Orleans, and it feels like a revival. “His supporters have been in mourning for a lost way of life. . . . Joined together with others like themselves, they now feel hopeful, joyous, elated,” she writes. “As if magically lifted, they are no longer strangers in their own land.”
This may well be the mind-set of some Trump supporters; certainly, it is the candidate’s pitch. But it’s hard to entirely trust Hochschild’s conclusions. Early in the book, she notes how federal assistance for strengthening environmental protections, combating global warming and reducing homelessness faces a “closed door” on the right. “If we want government help in achieving any of these goals, I realized, we need to understand those who see government more as problem than solution,” she writes. “And so it was that I began my journey to the heart of the American right.”
“Strangers in Their Own Land,” then, is not an academic’s impartial effort to understand conservatives but rather a means to an end — an end toward which the writer regards conservatives as obstacles to overcome.
But you little pussies desperately need one and desperately desire to be “led by someone.” (Anyone really, who will comfort you with milk-soft fuzzies and sparkly fairy dust.) And when you urbanites and modern liberals don’t get your own particular way in “leaders” (or anything else for that matter) what do you do? Instead of growing up and becoming an adult who can look after yourselves?
Why you little pussies riot and rape and burn your own neighborhoods down and burn other people’s neighborhoods down and you loot and you steal and you shoot each other and rape police cruisers and defecate on each other for a few days and then you burn out like a bad cigarette until the next time someone shouts “booga, booga!” at you.
Even the hippies weren’t as brainless and gutless as you fools.
Terrified of not having a president, terrified of having a president, desperately needing to be both led, and thereafter coddled, and comforted. You sad, pathetic, useless little people. You’re just plain terrified.
Urbanites. Modern liberals. Aside from the fact that you cause actual damage to everyone and everything around you, and that you are easier to spook than a squirrelly herd of wethers, you would amuse me.
Why don’t, just for once and giggles, you try Occupying a Set of Balls.
As it is you’re just a huge drag of clustered dummies and cowardly douchebags…
Look, I know that there are a lot of people out there who are saying, “let’s all just calm down and relax and learn to live together. We’re too deeply divided.”
Sounds perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? Christian and adult and big-hearted even.
But you’re making a set of assumptions based on the fact that the other person must also necessarily be reasonable, adult, and morally conscious.
Entertain, if only for a theoretical moment, that the other person might not be, and might not even want to be.
Because it has been my personal and reliably demonstrable and empirical experience in life that when you have two people in a relationship and one unrepentantly kicks, screams, stabs, runs riot, burns things, attacks the other, yells a lot, shoots at you, lies, manipulates, and throws an endless temper tantrum whenever they don’t get their way that what is really called for is not more hand-holding and saying of, “there, there, baby, everything will be okay… I’m trying really hard to understand you…”
No, what actually happens in real life is that eventually you either separate yourself from, crush, or jail the sociopath.
Because sociopaths are like that. They are like that as individuals, and they are most especially like that in a herd, a flock, or a mob.
“The concept of a peaceful transition of power between one criminal, thug, or tyrant to another criminal, thug, or tyrant as the result of an election is not some admirable or wonderfully inherent trait of American Republicanism, it is but another aspect of a totally corrupt and degenerate formulation of American democracy.
Indeed the very idea that anyone should expect a peaceful, genteel, and meek transition of power from one criminal, thug, or tyrant to another criminal, thug, or tyrant is so anti-American, so asinine, so obsequious, and so submissively servile a concept that I have another term for it entirely – unmanly.
The idea of peacefully and meekly submitting to criminals, thugs, and tyrants is not admirable or wonderful at all. For to admit such a thing is to admit to yourself, and eventually to the entire world, that not only are you passively satisfied with being ruled by criminals, thugs, and tyrants, it is to positively admit that you deserve to be ruled by such individuals. Indeed, to judge by the words and actions of a great many modern Americans I suspect that you truly believe that about yourselves. That you deserve to be ruled by such individuals.
Hell, many of you just abjectly believe you deserve to be ruled.Period.
America, you don’t have a government. You have a set of theoretical governing principles which your leaders completely ignore, you entirely lack the courage to truly respect or enforce, and which no one takes seriously to any degree at all.
Thus if you had any sense at all you would have understood by now what this actually implies: that you don’t really need a government. Most certainly not the one you have.
But you don’t have any sense at all.
You have unquestioned indoctrination, and an habitual and innate sense of abject submission.
If you believe that you will advance or repair this nation, much less the world, merely by voting in the upcoming election (or in any election) then you are both an outright and ignorant fool and an intentional and unashamed coward.
Now, don’t misunderstand me – I am in no way discouraging you from voting. That is not my point.
But in a Republic (or even in something as degenerate and pointless as a mere democracy) voting is but a duty, it is never a Solution.
The reason your Republic, hell the reason this world, stands upon a precipice of self-destruction is not because of the people that you do or do not vote for (though every honest man has to know instinctively that you have created this shit-bed for yourselves based upon your relentlessly juvenile desire to “be led“), but this set of situations continues to exist primarily because of your own cowardice and lack of balls.
If long ago you had simply had the courage and the manhood to actually revolt against many of the things you have simply bent the knee to as half-men thralls and soiled fealty-serfs then you wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t have the “rulers” that plague you and your feckless and impotent generations.
By all means vote, for that is your duty as a Citizen and a Free Man in a Republic.
But do not confuse your duty with an Accomplishment or your obligations with an actual Solution.
Your desperate, degenerate, and unmanly inner cowardice and lack of revolt against widespread and persistent wrong had bred this pathetic state (I mean that both as your internal psychological state and as your political state) upon you, and it is one you richly and undeniably deserve.
And one that you will continue to deserve until you stand up again as Free Men and Free Women.
This nation and this world will not be “fixed” by Trump or Clinton or Johnson, or by any of your “elected officials.” It never has been and it never will be.
It will be fixed by you, if it can be fixed at all. Or put another way to the degree it can be fixed at all, by human effort – it will not be fixed by your “leaders.” For that requires no effort and no risk on your part.
Indeed the very idea that you so desperately “need” your leaders to fix things for you is the very reason you are so gutless, ineffectual, and degenerate in the first place.
Indeed if you only had the man-balls to revolt against the very idea that you need to be led and that someone in authority must act in your absent stead then you wouldn’t need to revolt against that idea, but since you lack the man-balls to revolt against that idea the one thing you most desperately need (personal courage) is beyond your effective reach.
See, it always works that way with cowardice (for that is the very nature of cowardice)…
With courage, though, it just works.
I know you don’t get that, but you sure as hell need to. And pretty damned quick too.
So as this election approaches instead of merely electing something different, or, God forbid, yet another carious version of the same, how about you trying to be something different, and eschewing the same.
That would be really, really helpful. For once.
You know, you being the solution that you spend so much time whining and bitching and wishing that someone else would be… for you.
If you’re a man on the precipice of marriage or have marriage as a life goal, one worry you likely have is “Will my marriage last?”
While divorce rates have been decreasing since they reached their peak in the late 1970s and early ’80s, there’s still a perception out there that marriage is just a crapshoot — a game of Russian roulette — and that the odds favor you ending up in a family court, or at best in a sad and loveless relationship.
My guest today argues that doesn’t have to be your fate as long as you take a proactive approach to marriage. With some thought and intentionality, you can help ensure that you have a happy, loving, fulfilling relationship that lasts until death do you part. His name is Les Parrott and he’s a clinical psychologist specializing in marriage and family. He, along with his wife Leslie, who’s also a marriage therapist, have written a book to help couples prepare themselves for matrimonial commitment. It’s called Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before — And After — You Marry.
Today on the show, Les and I discuss how a man can know if he’s personally ready for marriage, the myths people have about marriage that set them up for disappointment, and the conversations you should be having with your future spouse to help ensure you have a happy life together. While the conversation is geared towards soon-to-be-marrieds and newlyweds, even if you’ve been married for a couple decades, you’re going to find some useful advice and insights in this show.
How to know if you’re ready for marriage
Why self-awareness is paramount for a successful relationship
The five attitudes towards marriage Millennials have
The effectiveness of pre-marital counseling in helping stave off divorce
What happy marriages look like
The expectations people have coming into marriage that can set them up for failure
The unspoken rules and unconscious roles in a marriage
The three factors that contribute to lasting love
How love changes as a relationship progresses and how to nurture it through the years
Why marriages are their strongest after 25+ years
How to cultivate passion in a long-term relationship
The saboteurs of marriage
The different needs of men and women in a relationship
Why conflict is good for a relationship and how to have a “good fight”
What couples who have been married for awhile, but are experiencing marital problems, can do to solve them
Saving Your Marriage Before It Startsis filled with research-backed insights and actionable steps that about-to-be married or newlywed couples can use to make sure their marriage starts off on the right foot. Even if you’ve been married for a few years, you’re going to find the book useful. Also, consider taking the Parrotts’ SYMBIS Assessment with your spouse for further insights about your marriage.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
is a professor of media at Macquarie University in Australia. He is interested in culture and technology, digital media, media history, contemporary arts, and intellectual history. His latest book is The New Time and Space (2015).
What is charisma?
Mixed blessings. Photo by Paolo Sarteschi/Flickr
Charisma is easier to recognise than to define. Newspaper and magazine articles consistently identify charismatic leaders – such as John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama – but those same articles rarely describe exactly what charisma is. It is often debated whether charisma is necessary for a ‘transformational’ leader, while shelves of self-help books optimistically promise to impart the ‘secrets’ of charisma. Other people hold that charisma cannot be ‘unlocked’ or ‘discovered’ at all because it is innate and present only in the rarest of individuals. So, to ask anew, just what is charisma?
Charisma’s origins are found in the letters of Paul the Apostle, written from around 50 AD. This is the first written use of the word ‘charisma’, derived from the Greek ‘charis’ (grace). For Paul, charisma meant ‘the gift of God’s grace’ or ‘spiritual gift’. In Paul’s letters to the fledgling Christian communities spread around the Roman empire, he wrote of the ‘charismata’ or spiritual gifts available to each member of the community. He identified nine charismata, including prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, interpreting that speech, teaching, and service – a range of gifts both supernatural and pragmatic.
For Paul, charisma was a mystical notion: the gifts were thought to alight on each individual without the need for church authority or institution. And there was no charisma of leadership: the interlocking charismata were meant to serve the community without the need for an imposed leader. By the fourth century, however, the Church had largely suppressed the notion of charisma deriving directly from the Holy Spirit. Conveniently, in its place was a hierarchy of Church leadership, with bishops at the top, interpreting the fixed religious laws inscribed in the newly authorised Bible. Charisma survived only in heretical outposts, such as prophets claiming direct inspiration without the mediations of bishop or scripture. Such heresies were forcibly repressed by the Church.
The idea of charisma then lay largely dormant for centuries. Only in the writings of the 20th-century German sociologist Max Weber was it reborn. In fact, we owe the contemporary meaning of ‘charisma’ to Weber, who took Paul’s religious idea and secularised it, placing charisma within a sociology of authority and leadership. For Weber, there were three types of authority: the rational-legal, the traditional, and the charismatic. Weber saw the charismatic form of authority as the revolutionary, even unstable, antidote to the ‘iron cage’ of rationalisation found in the contemporary ‘disenchanted’ world. He held that there was something heroic about the charismatic leader, who galvanised followers with great feats or with the ‘charisma of rhetoric’ found in inspiring speeches.
Weber defined charisma as ‘a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities’. He traced charismatic leadership through history, in the person of great military or religious leaders – and also held out the hope that charismatic leadership would continue to emerge, even in the highly regulated bureaucracies of the modern world.
Weber died in 1920, and did not live to see the application of his idea to contemporary politics and culture. Perhaps that’s a good thing, since the first political leaders to be described as charismatic were Mussolini and Hitler. For many European intellectuals, this created the sense that charismatic authority had a sinister dimension. That same dark side of charismatic leadership long remained: 1960s cult leaders such as Charles Manson, with their spellbinding hold on followers, were readily termed charismatic. By this point, Weber’s works had been translated, so that ‘charisma’ was popular in the English-speaking world from about the 1950s.
The first politicians that the media identified as charismatic in a positive, rather than demagogic, sense were JFK, and his brother Robert F Kennedy. After the 1960s, ‘charisma’ moved more into mainstream usage as it was applied to outstanding individuals other than political leaders: the late Muhammad Ali, for instance, was perhaps the most charismatic of all.
Today, charisma is used to describe a range of individuals: politicians, celebrities, business leaders. We understand charisma as a special, innate quality that sets certain individuals apart and draws others to them. It is considered a rare, specially endowed quality: in US politics, for instance, Bill Clinton was thought to have a charismatic presence, as is Obama – but nobody else in recent political memory earns the accolade. In business, Steve Jobs is the archetypal charismatic leader: visionary, driven, but also volatile and unstable. And in celebrity culture, charisma is regarded as a sign of rare authenticity when much of the entertainment industry is devoted to the plastic manufacture of fame in the manner of Idols or The Voice. Charisma cannot be created by reality TV.
Is charisma even desirable in contemporary politicians? The political biographer David Barnett has called charisma ‘one of the most dangerous concepts in a democracy that you can find’. Charismatic leaders can inspire followers with soaring rhetoric – which can also prove divisive and damaging to a party’s (or a nation’s) fortunes. Political parties are generally content with popular, unthreatening, folksy leaders who appeal to ordinary people. In Australia, Paul Keating was a charismatic, visionary prime minister, but also a schismatic leader who alienated much of the Labor Party’s traditional ‘heartland’ with his perceived arrogance. His successor, John Howard, was universally regarded as charisma-free, but his very ordinariness turned out to be his greatest asset: it was a reassuring rather than threatening style of leadership. Meanwhile in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi was a populist leader whose tenure as prime minister was deleterious for democracy. The charismatic leader might be thrilling, even captivating, but the success of that leader might not leave a political party, or a democracy, in a healthy state.
‘Charisma’, as an idea, spans 2,000 years. Is there a link between contemporary charisma – considered a special form of authority – and the religious charisma of Paul’s time? It lies in the notion of innateness, of the gift. Paul said that no bishop or Church required the blessing of charisma: it simply lighted on the individual, as a spiritual gift. Charisma today is enigmatic, an unknown or X factor, somehow irreducible. Nobody knows why rare individuals are blessed with charisma: it remains, as ever, a mysterious gift.
I’m of two different positions on the open carry situation at the GOP convention. I’ve been on both sides of this and I’ve worked both side of this.
On the one hand this could be a superb experiment and provide some measure of proof regarding how well and how responsibly law abiding citizens conduct themselves with firearms, even in large numbers and in public venues.
Of course I’m already aware of that fact but many are not and many others would never admit it regardless of the actual facts.
On the other hand I’m not really worried about law abiding or well trained/well practiced citizens. I know actual human and criminal behavior and criminals and those who wish to do murder will not abide by the law nor care how they handle their firearms, legally obtained or not. They won’t be out to prove they are responsible, or to practice self or societal defense, they’ll be out to do murder. Which is an entirely different objective with a wholly different set of methodologies.
And the cops simply won’t have enough personnel to check everyone who is packing at such an event or in town, and at the moment even they are open targets of criminals and terrorists.
Then again if the police or anyone else is attacked and armed citizens respond they could very well neutralize (or even just the threat of armed citizens could neutralize) any wanna be/would be murderer or potential mass murderer.
But, just to be honest, mass murderers and terrorists aren’t really afraid, per se, of death, they are only really afraid of being killed before they do a sufficient amount of murder to satisfy their own agenda. So that’s a kind of tricky tightrope – can you dissuade terrorists and mass murderers with the threat of failure since you can’t dissuade them properly with the threat of being killed in their attempts to do mass murder?
And on the other side of that even if citizens do kill the threat then police will find that very hard to sort out well, especially in the heat of the moment and in the chaos of the crowd. They will have to proceed cautiously enough to properly observe and understand the actual situation, should one develop, and that slowing of reaction times may put them and others in jeopardy.
Yes, this will be either a wonderful experiment regarding citizen proactivity and self-protection, or a security and policing nightmare, or, most likely and to some degree, both.
I guess I (like everyone else) will just have to see how this all develops over time.
READ THIS POST CAREFULLY – BECAUSE THIS CAN BE DONE, AGAIN
Every situation is dependent upon the circumstances encountered. That is true both of the cop, and the citizen. But read this carefully because there are actual solutions in this post to most (not all, but the vast majority) of deadly and potentially incidents between police and citizens in both directions.
And yes, I wish very much to return to these days. That was the way you actually did it. I saw countless examples of precisely this kind of police work growing up. Hell, I helped with this kind of police work and I had this kind of police work meted out to me on a couple of occasions. But I never forgot it, or what it meant, or what it actually required.
But it will take cops brave enough and self-disciplined enough to understand their true duty and function and citizens patient enough and self-disciplined enough to understand their duties and obligations to everyone else.
But this can be done. Again. These days can return. They should return.
(And truthfully, it is done already in most cases, you just don’t see that because most cases go smoothly and so are rarely mentioned and almost never displayed, and that maybe be to our real detriment, that body cams and other cams are not more often used by the media, the police, by citizens, and society to show how you do this right so people would have better examples of Right versus wrong. But my point is we could do this in most every case if more people understood, and far more importantly, practiced principles like these. But you have to have really brave, self-sacrificial cops and you have to have a self-disciplined, not self indulgent society. But this shouldn’t be just nostalgia, it should be Standard. But we all have to want that Higher Standard, and then make it so.)
(I have edited out the name and photograph and most IDing information for privacy on this blog post, but the story still retains the essence of what my friend said. This was my friend’s step father, but I knew dozens just like him. Like I said, there are solutions in this story.)
My Step-Father, was a Police Officer, first for several years in a city environment and then 25 years a small town. He never discharged his weapon, in the line of Duty, although he did take a bullet while on the Philadelphia police force…
My Dad often was called upon to diffuse domestic disturbances and instances where veterans were having psychotic episodes. He would always leave his gun & baton in his patrol car, choosing instead to carry his 4 D-cell battery flashlight, which was less of a threat, yet an effective weapon, if needed…
He could ONLY do this, because he had complete Faith in his Lord & Savior, years of experience and advanced military & law enforcement combat training.
My Step-Father exuded love & confidence, while commanding respect. He was a rare exception… Unfortunately, most Police Officers are human to a fault and subject to the same errors, prejudices, fears and struggles as the rest of us. The BIG difference is that they have a thankless job, with many unhappy endings, in which they are often hated and forced into situations that you & I would have no answer for!
The ability of a Police Officer to uphold the authority of his position is contingent upon society’s willingness to submit to the authority of the position…
I’m sad about these situations of violence & abuse on both sides. I’m sadder that obedience to and respect for Authority is being replaced by provocation!
First thing I noticed this morning upon waking… asked the wife if she understood what this meant? Not sure she did. Not sure many do. Or will. Not at first anyway.
The irony is that I’ve been following events surrounding the Dallas PD for a few weeks now including the supposed mass resignations. A couple of articles said over money, but a few hinted at other things, like failure to issue equipment because of an emphasis on community policing. (Which I’m not against, it’s just some beats are far more dangerous than others and trying to patrol all beats in the same way is ridiculous.)
Now assuming the reports I’ve read are true and some of the resignations are because of an insistence up top that all beats be equipped and patrolled as if they are all waterfront garden districts and certain equipment and tactics were discouraged, then you use a robot to explode a perp (which again I’m not against as a last ditch resort to save lives), then the precedent here could at least conceivably lead down some very dark corridors.
You discourage vest and body armor and possibly trigger mass resignations but then employ robots not to just shoot and overwhelm a suspect but to explode them?
If you can’t see the irony…
But I’d like to make a suggestion in this arena iffin I may. If you’re gonna go down this road then at least properly prepare. Develop police combat robots which can gas, stun, immobilize, track, overwhelm, immobilize, incapacitate, and apprehend suspects rather than just merely shoot and blow them up. Sure, I’m not a great fan of robots replacing people in such situations but at least be ready with real Policing Bots and not just shoot and kill bots.
Because in cases where ya got a guy dead to rights, and he’s already shooting or blowing up the joint, that’s one thing. But in cases involving other suspects who you don’t really know their real disposition just blowing em up will lead to very bad things.
Or worse lead to a third world, Robocop, mere liberal Utopian big-government, big-brother democracy of the best equipped rather than to a thriving Republic of Free Men.
Assuming we have a Republic anymore, which ain’t likely…
Bomb Squad Robot Drives Up Ramp
J.p. Lawrence, via DVIDS
Bomb Squad Robot Drives Up Ramp
From New York National Guard: “A bomb disposal robot drives up a ramp piloted by New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Adam Russ of the New York Army National Guard’s 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Battalion, during training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany New York, May 18”
In the wake of post-protest shootings that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded, along with two civilians, police traded gunfire last night with a suspect inside a downtown Dallas parking garage. Eventually, law enforcement sent a “bomb robot” (most likely shorthand for a remotely controlled bomb disposal robot) armed with an explosive, to the suspect’s location, then detonated the explosive, killing the suspect.
“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was…other options would have exposed our officers to great danger,” said Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. “The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb.”
Repurposing a robot that was created to prevent death by explosion clearly contrasts with the way these machines are normally used. Bomb disposal robots are routinely used to minimize the potential of harm to officers and civilians when disarming or clearing potential explosives from an area. They are often equipped with their own explosive charges and other tools, not to kill, but detonate other potential bombs in the area.
Dallas police used a bomb disposal robot in another major news story last year, when the Dallas Police headquarters were attacked by a gunman who planted explosives. That assailant was shot by police, not killed by the bomb robot.
Records show that the Dallas County Sheriff Department and neighboring Duncanville Police Department each own a MARCbot, another commonly-used bomb disposal robot.
However, in previous images seen of the Dallas Police department using bomb disposal robots, they appear to actually use a Northrop Grumman Remotec Andros F6A or F6B, a standard model for police and military use. It’s highly customizable, and can look very different depending on which configuration of arm and sensors are configured. The closest known Andros resides in Comal County, Texas, 250 miles away.
The police’s use of this machine to kill raises questions about how robots will be used in the future. This may be the first example of a robot being used by American police to kill a suspect, notes University of California Davis law professor Elizabeth Joh:
Popular Science contributing editor Peter W. Singer tweets that similar tactics have been used before, although in a military situation, when a surveillance robot was used to kill an insurgent with a Claymore explosive.
It’s unclear how police controlled the robot, but wireless protocols can be easily intercepted or altered by skilled hackers. Security researcher Matt Blaze points out that the security of a machine like this becomes more important once it’s shown the capacity to be used as a weapon.
In other images found of Dallas a bomb disposal robot in action, the robot appears to be controlled wirelessly. The Andros robot can be operated wirelessly or with a wired tether, according to the Northrop Grumman website, but it’s unclear which mode Dallas Police used in this incident.
Updated: This post has been updated to reflect new information concerning the potential bomb disposal robot used.
If it was indeed two snipers though it was not just random violence (is there ever really such a thing?) aimed at police but a well calculated and well planned operation. It could be a local gang, possibly, but I am dubious. Not many gangs or thugs are good shots, much less highly accurate sniper shots.
No, this was in the works for awhile I suspect especially given their accuracy and positioning. It was well scouted and to have escaped as they did that also makes me dubious that this is what it initially appears.
Given what is reported thus far I suspect someone like Mexican drug lords, or perhaps even terrorists. It could be a lone wolf or a pair of them but whoever did this did so in a methodical way and when everything else went down with the kid who was shot in his car they stepped in (or stepped up their already planned operation) and exploited the hole they had to have already been aware of.
Like I said anything is possible nowadays but I suspect this was something already well panned, not just a one or two day patchwork effort. It was well planned and well executed and well plotted. Someone knew exactly what to hit and when and where.
They should go where the evidence leads but I would disregard no one at this point. Including drug gangs hiring out or even terrorists.
There is one other possibility too, which might sound crazy but I’ve seen crazier.
The man whose picture has been circulated by the Dallas Police Department has turned himself in, the department tweeted. Police initially called the man a suspect, but now refer to him as a person of interest. Another alleged suspect is in custody, the tweet said. A suspicious package was discovered near that suspect’s location. The package is being secured by a bomb squad, the tweet said.
[Breaking news update 12:19 a.m. ET]
A fourth officer has died following a protest in Dallas over shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, Dallas police tweeted.
[Breaking news update 12:13 a.m. ET]
The Dallas Police Department tweeted an image of a man they said was one of the suspects and asked the public for help in finding him. The photo is of an African-American man wearing a camouflage T-shirt and carrying what appears to be a rifle. Texas is an open carry state, which means it is legal for those with permits to openly carry weapons.
[Breaking news update 12:08 a.m. ET]
Eleven police officers have been shot in Dallas, according to city police Chief David Brown. Three officers have died: one DART officer and two Dallas police officers, Brown said.
[Breaking news update 12:05 a.m. ET]
Police have cornered a suspect in a commercial garage after the shootings of 11 police officers near the end of a protest in Dallas over shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, police Chief David Brown told reporters. The chief said at least two snipers in elevated positions fired “ambush style” on the officers. “Some (were) shot in the back.” There also is a search for a possible bomb in the area, Brown said. “This is a very emotional time for our department and the law enforcement community across the country,” Brown said. Officials asked the public’s help in identifying suspects.
[Previous story posted at 11:58 p.m. ET]
Multiple police officers have been killed during a protest in Dallas over shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Three Dallas police officers were killed and eight others were wounded, Dallas Police Chief David Brown and the City of Dallas said in separate statements.
One Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer was fatally shot, the agency tweeted.
It’s not clear if Brown included the DART officers in his tally.
Brown said two snipers shot the 10 from elevated positions during a protest. Two officers are in surgery and three are in critical condition. No suspects were in custody.
Three other DART officers were also shot. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening, DART said.
‘Everyone was screaming’
The shooting happened as protests were underway about two blocks from Dealey Plaza. Video showed the crowd suddenly sprinting away.
CNN affiliate KTVT reported that two Dallas officers were shot. CNN could not immediately confirm that information and it’s not clear if they were referring to the DART officers.
Witness Clarissa Myles said she was eating at McDonalds when the chaos began.
“Everyone was screaming, people were running,” she said. “I saw at least probably 30 shots go off.”
“I was walking next to the officer who was helping with the protest, all of a sudden I saw six to eight shots,” one witness told the station. “It looked like two officers went down.”
Another witness who was at the protest told the station he heard multiple gunshots.
“Whoever was shooting had an assault rifle — and I know guns. The shots were in rapid succession,” the witness said.
Video showed numerous police officers crouching behind vehicles. Others approached a location holding protective shields.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dallas law enforcement community and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officers killed and injured this evening,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement following the shooting. “In times like this we must remember — and emphasize — the importance of uniting as Americans.”
All of these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth.
People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland.
If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it.But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a habitation for them.
Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, [nor between nations whether barbarian or Scythian, nor in status whether slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all so believers are equal in Christ, without distinction.
So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy set apart, sanctified for His purpose and well-beloved by God Himself, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper;bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in unselfish love, which is the perfect bond of unity for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others.
Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses,so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them.If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought.They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”
So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh.Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.
It is far more important to be interested in the state of another man’s soul than in his societal station. And it is far, far more important for a man to be interested in his own True Nature than in his political one.
To obtain a hard copy of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), the most popular personality test in the world, one must first spend $1,695 on a week-long certification program run by the Myers & Briggs Foundation of Gainesville, Florida.
This year alone, there have been close to 100 certification sessions in cities ranging from New York to Pasadena, Minneapolis, Portland, Houston, and the Foundation’s hometown of Gainesville, where participants get a $200 discount for making their way south to the belly of the beast. It is not unusual for sessions to sell out months in advance. People come from all over the world to get certified.
In New York last April, there were twenty-five aspiring MBTI practitioners in attendance. There was a British oil executive who lived for the half the year under martial law in Equatorial Guinea. There was a pretty blonde astrologist from Australia, determined to invest in herself now that her US work visa was about to expire. There was a Department of Defense administrator, a gruff woman who wore flowing skirts and rainbow rimmed glasses, and a portly IBM manager turned high school basketball coach. There were three college counselors, five HR reps, and a half-dozen “executive talent managers” from Fortune 500 companies. Finally, there was me.
I was in an unusual position that week: Attending the certification program had not been my idea. Rather, I had been told that MBTI certification was a prerequisite to accessing the personal papers of Isabel Briggs Myers, a woman about whom very little is known except that she designed the type indicator in the final days of World War II. Part of our collective ignorance about Myers stems from how profoundly her personal history has been eclipsed by her creation, in much the same way that the name “Frankenstein” has come to stand in for the monster and not his creator.
Flip through the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, and you will find the indicator used to debate what makes an employee a good “fit” for her job, or to determine the leadership styles of presidential candidates. Open a browser, and you will find the indicator adapted for addictive pop psychology quizzes by BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog. Enroll in college, work an office job, enlist in the military, join the clergy, fill out an online dating profile, and you will encounter the type indicator in one guise or another — to match a person to her ideal office job or to her ideal romantic partner.
Yet though her creation is everywhere, Myers and the details of her life’s work are curiously absent from the public record. Not a single independent biography is in print today. Not one article details how Myers, an award-winning mystery writer who possessed no formal training in psychology or sociology, concocted a test routinely deployed by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies, the US government, hundreds of universities, and online dating sites like Perfect Match, Project Evolove and Type Tango. And not one expert in the field of psychometric testing, a $500 million industry with over 2,500 different tests on offer in the US alone, can explain why Myers-Briggs has so thoroughly surpassed its competition, emerging as a household name on par with the Atkins Diet or The Secret.
Less obvious at first, and then wholly undeniable, is how hard the present-day guardians of the type indicator work to shield Myers’s personal and professional history from critical scrutiny. For the foundation, as well as for its for-profit-research-arm, the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), this means keeping journalists far away from Myers’s notebooks, correspondences and research materials, which are stored in the Special Collections division of the University of Florida library. Although they are technically the property of the university — thus open to the public — Myers’s papers require permission from CAPT to access; permission that has not been granted to anyone1 in the decade since the papers were donated to the university by Myers’s granddaughter, Katharine Hughes. Twice I was warned by the university librarian, a kind and rueful man, that CAPT was “very invested in protecting Isabel’s image.” Why her image should need protection, I did not yet understand.
When I wrote to CAPT in August 2014, I received an enthusiastically officious email from their Director of Research Operations, requesting additional details about my interest in type indicator and a book I was planning to write on personality testing. “Will there be descriptions and historical background about other personality tests in addition to the MBTI instrument?” she wrote. “If so, we would like to be informed.” So began nine months of correspondence with the staff of CAPT, which culminated this April in their request that I become a certified administrator of the MBTI instrument. Certification was a necessary precursor to giving me access to the papers, the director told me over the phone. CAPT would even be willing to consider “possibilities for funding the training.”
This is how I found myself in the company of the oil man, the astrologist, the Department of Defense administrator and twenty other people at the certification workshop, located on the sixth floor conference room of the United Jewish Appeal Federation building on East 59th Street. We sat at tables of five or six, our backs pressed against a smoked-glass wall decorated with etchings of Seder plates, unfurling braids of challah, and half lit menorahs. Each of us wore a name tag with our first name, last name, and our four letter type printed on it in big block letters. It was not unusual for people to lead with their type when they introduced themselves.
I said hello to the woman sitting next to me. Her name tag said “Laurie — ENFJ.”
Laurie2 checked me out and sighed, relieved. “We’re both E’s,” she said. “We’ll get along great.”
The most important part of becoming MBTI certified is learning to speak type,” declares Barbara, our instructor for the next week and a self-proclaimed “clear ENTJ.” Dressed in black, with prominent red toenails and a commanding nasal tone, Barb, as she insists we call her, will teach us how to “speak type fluently.”
“This is only the beginning!” Barb says. “Just think of this as a language immersion program.”
The comparison is an apt one. There are sixteen types, each made up of a combination of four different letters. Each letter represents one of two poles in a strict dichotomy of human behavior. From the pre-training test I took earlier in the week, I learn that, like Barb, I too am an “ENTJ.” I prefer extraversion (E) to introversion (I), intuition (N) to sensing (S), thinking (T) to feeling (F), and judging (J) to perception (P). It is strange, this tidy division of myself into these alien categories. Initially, I have trouble keeping the letters straight. Strange too is the ease with which people around me speak their types, as if declaring oneself a “clear ENTJ” or a “borderline ISFP” were the most natural thing in the world.
Of course, speaking type is anything but natural. Still Barb’s job is to convince us that this simple system of thought can account for the messiness of many of our personal and interpersonal relationships, regardless of gender, race, class, age, language, education, or any of the other intricacies of human existence. Type is intensely democratizing in its vision of the world, weird and wonderful in its commitment to flattening the material differences between people only to construct new and imaginary borders around the self. Its populism is most clearly demonstrated by MBTI’s astonishing geographic reach: Last year, two million people took the test, in seventy different countries, and in 21 languages. “As long as you have a seventh grade reading level and you’re a ‘normal’ person” — by which Barb means, you are not mentally ill or blithely psychopathic — “you can learn to speak type.”
Across all languages and continents, however, the first rule of speaking type remains the same. You do not, under any circumstances, refer to MBTI as a “test.” It is a “self-reporting instrument” or, more succinctly, an “indicator.” “People use the word ‘test’ all the time,” Barb complains. “But what you’re taking is an indicator. It’s indicating based on what you told the test.”
Although her statement sounds tautological, Barb assures us that it is not. Unlike a standardized test, like the SAT, which asks the test taker to choose between objectively right and wrong answers, the MBTI instrument has no right or wrong answers, only competing preferences. Take, for instance, two questions from the test I took last April: “In reading for pleasure, do you: (A) Enjoy odd or original ways of saying things; or; (B) Like writers to say exactly what they mean.” And: “If you were a teacher, would you rather teach: (A) Fact courses, or; (B) Courses involving theory?” And unlike the SAT, in which a higher score is always more desirable than a lower one, there are no better or worse types. All types, Barb announces rapturously, are created equal.
The indicator’s sole measure of success, then, is how well the test aligns with your perception of your self: Do you agree with your designated type? If you don’t, the problem lies not with the indicator, but with you. Maybe you were in a “work mindset when you answered the questions,” Barb suggests. Or you had become unusually adept at “veiling your preferences” to suit the wants and needs of your husband or wife, your co-workers, your children. Whatever the case may be, somehow you were inhibited from answering the questions as your “shoes off self” — Isabel Briggs Myers’s term for the authentic you.
More cynically, what this seems to mean is that the indicator can never be wrong. No matter how forcefully one may protest their type, the indicator’s only claim is that it holds a mirror up to your psyche. Behind all the pseudo-scientific talk of “instruments” and “indicators” is a simple, but subtle, truth: the test reflects whatever version of your self you want it to reflect. If what you want is to see yourself as odd or original or factual and direct, it only requires a little bit of imagination to nudge the test in the right direction, to rig the outcome ahead of time. I do not mean this in any overtly manipulative sense. Most people do not lie outright, for to do so would be to shatter the illusion of self-discovery that the test projects. I mean, quite simply, that to succeed, a personality test must introduce the test taker to the preferred version of her self — a far cry, in many cases, from the “shoes off,” authentic you.
But Barb doesn’t pause to meditate on the language lesson she has started to give us. Instead she projects onto a large screen behind her a photograph of a pale and bespectacled man in a neat cravat. Peering over us is Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist whose 654-page study Psychological Types(1923) inspired Myers’s development of the indicator. Jung was “all about Freud, the couch, neurosis!” Barb laughs. For the purposes of our training, the relationship between his theory of psychological types and Myers’s commodification of it is a matter of good branding strategy. “Jung is a very respected name, a big name,” Barb says. “Even if you don’t know who he was, know his name. His name gives the test validity.”
Validity is crucial to selling the test, even if it doesn’t mean exactly what Barb seems to think it does. After the certification session is over, the participants will return to work with a 5-by-7 diploma, a brass “MBTI” pin, and a stack of promotional materials that they are encouraged to use to persuade their clients or colleagues to take an MBTI assessment. Each test costs $49.95 per person, more if you want a full breakdown of your type, and even more if you want an MBTI-certified consultant to debrief your type with you. No one questions the sheer ingenuity of this sales scheme. We are paying $1,695 to attend a course that authorizes us to recruit others to buy a product — a product which tells us nothing more than what we already know about ourselves.
Although Barb invokes Jung’s name with pride and a touch of awe, Jung would likely be greatly displeased, if not embarrassed, by his long-standing association with the indicator. The history of his involvement with Myers begins not with Isabel, but with her mother Katharine Cook Briggs, whom Barb mentions only in passing. After the photograph of Jung, Barb projects onto the screen a photograph of Katharine, unsmiling and broad necked and severely coiffed. “I usually don’t get into this,” she says, gesturing at Katharine’s solemn face. “People have already bought into the instrument.”
Yet Katharine is an interesting woman, a woman who might have interested Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem or any second-wave feminist eager to dismantle the opposition between “the happy modern housewife” and the “unhappy careerist.” A stay-at-home mother and wife who had once studied horticulture at Michigan Agricultural College, Katharine was determined to approach motherhood like an elaborate plant growth experiment: a controlled study in which she could trace how a series of environmental conditions would affect the personality traits her children expressed. In 1897, Isabel emerged — her mother’s first subject. From the day of her birth until the child’s thirteenth birthday, Katharine kept a leather-bound diary of Isabel’s developments, which she pseudonymously titled The Life of Suzanne. In it, she painstakingly recorded the influence that different levels of feeding, cuddling, cooing, playing, reading, and spanking had on Isabel’s “life and character.”
Today we might think of Katharine as the original helicopter parent: hawkish and over-present in her maternal ministrations. But in 1909, Katharine’s objectification of her daughter answered feminist Ellen Key’s resounding call for a new and more scientific approach to “the vocation of motherhood.” More progressive still was how Katharine marshaled the data she had collected on Isabel to write a series of thirty-three articles in The Ladies Home Journal on the science of childrearing. These articles, which were intended to help other mothers systematize their childcare routines, boasted such single-minded titles as “Why I Believe the Home Is the Best School” and “Why I Find Children Slow in Their School Work.” Each appeared under the genteel nom de plume “Elizabeth Childe.”
It is not surprising that Jung’s work should pique the interest of “Elizabeth Childe,” an aspiring pedagogue who perceived the maturation of her child’s personality as nothing less than an experimental form to be cultivated, even perfected, over the years. Indeed, Katharine first encountered an English translation of Jung’s Psychological Types in 1923, when she was editing The Life of Suzanne to submit to publishers. She found Psychological Types an unwieldy text, part clinical assessment, part romantic meditation on the nature of the human soul, which emphasized the “creative fantasy” required for psychological thought. Katharine took this as an invitation to start thinking of her children’s personalities as divided into three oppositional axes: extraverted versus introverted, intuitive versus sensory, thinking versus feeling. In 1927, she wrote to Jung to express her feverish admiration for his work — her “Bible,” she called it — and her desire to bring a more practical approach to his densely theoretical observations, which her “children … had been greatly helped by.”
“How wasteful children are, even with their own precious, irreplaceable lives!” Jung once wrote to Freud, a letter that might have doubled as his irritated response to Katharine and her request to collaborate. From the outset, it seems that Jung was impressed by Katharine’s brilliance and flattered by her enthusiasm, but skeptical of her eagerness to bring his typology to the science of childrearing. When Katharine wrote to him for advice about a neighborhood child, a young girl in great emotional distress who she believed she could cure through Jungian type analysis, Jung rebuked her for overstepping her bounds as a dispassionate observer. “You overdid it,” he wrote. “You wanted to help, which is an encroachment upon the will of others. Your attitude ought to be that of one who offers an opportunity that can be taken or rejected. Otherwise you are most likely to get in trouble. It is so because man is not fundamentally good, almost half of him is a devil.”
Despite Jung’s unwillingness to help Katharine see beyond the devil in man, some of the more practical applications of his typology appeared in a 1926 article that Katharine published in The New Republic, winningly titled “Meet Yourself: How to Use the Personality Paint Box.” In it, she would present Jung’s dichotomies as an elegant paint-by-numbers exercise, in which E/I, N/S, and T/F were the “primary character colors” that each individual could “combine and blend” to form “his own personality portrait.” Even babies, those “little bundles of psychic energy,” had types, and the sooner a mother identified her child’s type, the better it was for his mental maturity. “One need not be a psychologist in order to collect and identify types any more than one needs to be a botanist to collect and identify plants,” Katharine assured her fellow mothers. There was no need to doubt one’s ability to type one’s child.
“Meet Yourself” enjoyed quiet acclaim among parents when it was first published, but ultimately, Katharine’s desire to spread Jung’s gospel to a broader audience would inspire a shift in genre. She would abandon The Life of Suzanne as a parenting guide and turn instead to fiction, which she believed would help her reach a larger and more dedicated audience. Her longest work, written toward the end of her life, was a romance novel inspired by Psychological Types called The Guesser, the story of a love affair between two incompatible Jungian types. It was summarily rejected by ten publishers and two film producers for dwelling too much on Jung, whom no one other than Katharine was interested in, and not enough on love.
Like her mother, Isabel also began her adult life as a wife and mother. She graduated from Swarthmore in June of 1918 — Phi Beta Kappa, an aspiring fiction writer, and a moderately disillusioned newlywed, who had followed her husband first to Memphis, where he was training as a bomber pilot, and then to Philadelphia, where he enrolled in law school. In each city, she made a list of her future goals in a notebook which she titled Diary of an Introvert Determined to Extrovert, Write, & Have a Lot of Children.
Keep complete job list and do one every day.
Housekeep till 10 A.M.
Two hours writing.
One hour outdoors.
One hour self-development—music, study, friends.
Wash face with soap every night.
Never wear anything soiled.
But despite her clear goals and clean clothes, Isabel struggled to find a job. After an unfulfilling stint at a temp agency, she wrote to Katharine to complain about the difficulties of finding meaning in one’s work, particularly as a married woman who was expected to do nothing more than to have children. “I think under the spur of necessity a woman can do a man’s work as well as he can, provided she is as capable for a woman as he is for a man,” she wrote. “But I’m perfectly sure that it takes more out of her. And it’s a waste of life to spend yourself on work that someone else can do at less cost. I’m sure men and women are made differently, with different gifts and different kids of strengths.” In a perfect world, she concluded, there would exist “some highly intelligent division of labor that can be worked out, so everybody works, but not at the wrong things.”
Isabel’s “instinctive answer” to the question of what to do with herself was to be “my man’s helpmeet.” And for nearly a decade she was. Until 1928, she did housework, gave birth to two children, and at night, when the house was in order and the children were asleep, she continued to wonder what was missing from her life. Although a husband and children and a “beloved little ivy-covered colonial house” in the suburbs were “everything in the world that I wanted,” Isabel wrote, “I knew I wanted something else.” That something else was the time and energy to pursue a career as a successful fiction writer, something her mother had never been able to realize. “In the evenings, between nine and three, stretched six heavenly, uninterrupted hours — if I could stay awake to use them,” she mused.
Working at night, but most often with one fitful child or another in her lap, Isabel started and finished a detective novel, which she promptly submitted to a mystery contest at New McClure’s magazine. The winner was to receive a $7,500 cash prize (over $100,000 today) and a book contract with a prominent New York publisher. Katharine, apparently jealous that her daughter was trying to succeed where she had once failed, had little encouragement for her daughter, only what Isabel lamented as some “cool criticisms” of the “novel’s style.” Much to her mother’s surprise, Isabel’s novel,Murder Yet to Come, took first place, surpassing the writing team behind the Ellery Queen novels, among the many other seasoned pulp writers who had vied for the prize.
Yet there was plenty of reason for Katharine, ever the devoted scholar of Jung, to appreciate how she had inculcated her daughter into speaking — or, in this case, writing — type. Unlike other detective stories of the time, which often pair a brilliantly imaginative sleuth with a more literal minded sidekick, Murder Yet to Come features a team of three amateur detectives: an effeminate playwright, his dutiful assistant, and a brawny Army sergeant. Unburdened by crying children or any other domestic responsibilities, they set out to solve a gruesome murder. Each member of the team possesses what Isabel, in her letter to her mother, described as “different gifts and different kinds of strengths.” The playwright has the “quickness of insight” to uncover the murderer’s identity, the sergeant takes “smashingly, effective action” to apprehend him, while the assistant makes “slow, solid decisions” that protect the family of the victim from scandal. None of the detectives “works at the wrong things.” Like today’s slick police procedurals, in which there are the people who investigate the crime and those who prosecute the offenders, every character in Murder Yet to Come is designed to maximize the efficiency of the team.
As a mystery story, Murder Yet to Come is decidedly second-rate; the villain predictable, his motive commonplace, the detectives flat and uncharismatic. But as a testing ground for the Myers-Briggs type indicator, the novel is a remarkably direct receptacle for Isabel’s ideas about work, right down to its crude division of gender roles between the feminized playwright and the hyper-masculine military man. Strengths and weaknesses are distributed in a zero-sum fashion; the character who possesses a keen eye for sensory details reverts to a slow, stuttering imbecile when asked to abstract larger patterns from his observations. Friendships and working relationships are always invigorated by personality differences, never strained by them. And for death-defying detectives, the characters are all unusually self-aware, each happy to accept his personal limitations and cede authority to others when necessary, like cogs in a well-oiled machine. Reprinted by CAPT in 1995, Murder Yet to Come showcases characters who are “beautifully consistent with type portraits,” according to the forward to the new edition. “Those readers who know type will enjoy ‘typing them’ as the mystery progresses.”
CAPT’s website, where I purchased Murder Yet to Come for $15.00, claims that the novel was Isabel’s “only sojourn into fiction” before she shifted her attention to the type indicator. This is incorrect. The company has not reprinted Isabel’s second novel, Give Me Death (1934), which revisits the same trio of detectives half a decade later. Perhaps this is due to the novel’s virulently racist plot: One by one, members of a land-owning Southern family begin committing suicide when they are led to believe that “there is in [our] veins a strain of Negro blood.” Despite their differences, the detectives agree that it is “better for [the family] to be dead” than for them to be alive, heedlessly reproducing with white people.
Give Me Death is more explicitly about the preservation of the family, but saddled with a far more sinister understanding of type: Type as racially determined. There is talk of eugenics. There is much hand wringing about the preservation of Southern family dynasties, about “honor” and “esteem.” That the novel was written in the years when laws forbidding interracial marriage were increasingly the target of ACLU and NAACP protests makes it all the more reactionary, and thus all the more unsuitable, from an image management perspective, for reissue today. One would hardly enjoy “typing” these characters.
If Isabel had started her life as her mother’s experiment, she had quickly grown into Katharine’s student, her apostle, and even her competition. Fiction had presented one way for her to unite her mother’s talk of type with the intelligent division of labor, ordering imaginary characters into a rational system with a profitable end: bringing criminals to justice. After World War II, the emergent industry of personality testing would give Isabel the opportunity to organize — and experiment on — real people.
The second rule of speaking type is: Personality is an innate characteristic, something fixed since birth and immutable, like eye color or right-handedness. “You have to buy into the idea that type never changes,” Barb says, speaking slowly and emphasizing each word so that we may remember and repeat this mantra — “Type Never Changes” — to our future clients. “We will brand this into your brain,” she vows. “The theory behind the instrument supports the fact that you are born with a four letter preference. If you hear someone say, ‘My type changed,’ they are not correct.”
Of all the questionable assumptions that prop up the Myers-Briggs indicator, this one strikes me as the shakiest: that you are “born with a four letter preference,” a reductive blueprint for how to move through life’s infinite and varied challenges. Many other personality indicators, ranging in complexity from zodiac signs to online dating questionnaires to Harry Potter’s sorting hat, share the assumption that personality is fixed in one form or another. And yet the belief of a singular and essential self has always seemed to me an irresistibly attractive fiction: One that insists on seeing each of us as a coherent human being, inclined to behave in predictable ways no matter what circumstances surround us. There is, after all, a certain narcissistic beauty to the idea that we are whole. “If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald of his greatest creation, Jay Gatsby, in the same year that Katharine fell under the sway ofPsychological Types. Learning to speak type means learning to link the quotidian gestures of life into an easily digestible story, one capable of communicating to perfect strangers some sense of who you are and why you do what you do.
Yet the impulse to treat personality as innate is, in no small part, a convenient way of putting these gorgeously complete people in their rightful places. Just as each one of Isabel’s three detectives serves a unique purpose in her novels, a way of moving the plot forward that follows from his innate “gifts,” so too does the indicator imagine that each person will fall into their designated niche in a high-functioning and productive social order. This is another fiction — to my mind, a dystopian fiction — that most personality tests trade in: The fantasy of rational organization, and, in particular, the rational organization of labor. “The MBTI will put your personality to work!” promises a career assessment flier from Arizona State University, a promise that is echoed by thousands of leadership guides, self-help books, LinkedIn profiles, and job listings, the promise that underwrites such darkly futuristic films as Divergent or Blade Runner. To live under an economic system that is not organized by personality, thinks the heroine of Divergent, is “not just to live in poverty and discomfort; it is to live divorced from society, separated from the most important thing in life: community.”
Or as a trainee belts out in the middle of an exercise, “Team work makes the dream work!”