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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Transgressivism Of Mamet

Very worth a read, not really for the political spin put upon it, but for the concept behind it:
“I wondered, How did the system function so well? Because it does—the system functions beautifully.” How did the happiest, freest, and most prosperous country in history sprout from the Hobbesian jungle?

“I realized it was because of this thing, this miracle, this U.S. Constitution.” The separation of powers, the guarantee of property, the freedoms of speech and religion meant that self-interested citizens had a system in which they could hammer out their differences without killing each other. Everyone who wanted to could get ahead. The Founders had accepted the tragic view of life and, as it were, made it pay. It’s a happy paradox: The gloomier one’s view of human nature—and Mamet’s was gloomy—the deeper one’s appreciation of the American miracle.
This I would like to talk about, and I think I want to read his book.

I do not accept this as being a "conversion" experience - I think Mamet's view of life has not changed at all. I think that in his "cruel neutrality" (to borrow a phrase from Ann Althouse), that he is merely staying in the functional middle.

Dr. Sanity has often written on the problem with Marxism - that it does not understand human nature, and so is doomed to fail. Mamet is a ferociously perceptive observer of human reality, and so it is not surprising that he has reached the same conclusion.

Note: there are already good comments, but after reading Rick's I wondered if he had a pyschic tap into my anxieties?

If the above topic is too depressing for you, I recommend that you start with transgressivism in cooking shows. Read the recipe for peas, then read the comments. They should keep you howling with laughter for quite some time. After that you can maybe return to the heavy stuff.


"The gloomier one’s view of human nature—and Mamet’s was gloomy—the deeper one’s appreciation of the American miracle."

For what it is worth, the American miracle is a sight to behold.

I laugh when I hear people say they are going to leave the country if it all falls apart.

To where exactly? China? Seriously?

I think about the things that I write about on my blog and how the Chinese government would treat me if I moved there. Let's just say that Darwin would point to me as another data point, lol.

My word verification is "dishout".
How do very smart people like Mamet and so many others manage to overlook the experiment that occurred beginning with the end of WWII? Taiwan, West Germany, South Korea, and Japan. All transformed from fallen countries into successes through representative government and free markets. While their neighbors tried to make a go of Communism. All with tragic results. The experiments have been run and the results are in. Communism doesn't work. Tyranny doesn't work for the majority of those living under it.

I thought that with the collapse of the USSR the free market, representative government system had won and was going to sweep the world. But I forgot that the vision of utopia dancing in the brains of the progressives lives on. Kinda like the undead.

Maybe Mamet will make some ground-breaking movies that we need to change the the minds of utopians. Let us hope.
OK, Mark, I will take a shot at this. We are in a long process of obsoleting our Constitution. The 10 amendment is long gone. Alito and Indiana, as M_O_M pointed out, have destroyed the 4th amendment. There was a story in a regional paper this week that Obama is looking to implement gun control via executive order. The "Commerce Clause" is unrecognizable. The Federal government forces requirements, such as Medicaid, onto the states that will bankrupt them. The high speed rail project is a monstrosity that never should have seen the light of day. The dollar and the US economy are being destroyed by big government. The next big objective to be destroyed is the health care system. Schumer wants to reduce Senate approvals for nominations. Obama would be delighted since he frowns on the "advise and consent" process preferring direct appointments of "Czars" and NRLB. We could all go on and on. The "American Miracle" is being eroded, as we watch, by all three branches of government.

Now, Jim Rogers has moved to Singapore. Bonner has moved to Argentina. I am sure there are other recognizable names. The question comes down to where could we find a place with less in your face government than we seem to be breeding here.

I claim government is inherently evil. Government is always attempting to acquire more power and, once acquired, it takes a revolution to pry that power away. The people who go into government are the people who should never be allowed near government. I thought Obama was an empty suit. I did not realize he also did not like Americans or America. He certainly does not appreciate the "American Miracle". That "miracle" is something to be overcome on his way to more power and prestige.

The gloominess is not over lack of appreciation for the "American Miracle". It is over the continuing destruction of that miracle by people pursuing wealth and power. Does anybody really believe Harry Reid has become wealthy because he made good investments?

It is very hard to see the truth when one's income depends on not seeing it. As a playwright/director, Mamet's career depended on not challenging the Midtown Manhattan view of the world. He's got enough pull now that he can pretty much do as he pleases, so he is. I'm sure that political opinions would be pretty evenly split in the media, educational, and financial elites, if the blackballing and groupthink weren't so strong. But the fact is that there are a lot more strivers out there than secure, satisfied, successful people. The "Long March" through the institutions was very successful at making the leftist viewpoint the remunerative viewpoint in a few key institutions.
Rick - I nearly walked out back and shot myself due to the precision with which you laid out my anxieties.

The Constitution is ultimately a system of interlocking checks and balances. Neither of the two main parties believes in checks and balances any more, so we are losing it piece by piece.

I'm also alarmed by the Obama doctrine of limited engagements in unlimited countries not requiring even an AUMF.
Jimmy - hope springs eternal in the human breast.

In middle age, we lose some of that hope if we are capable of acquiring wisdom.
Neil - yes, it is about money.

Climate science, let's face it, is about the money right now.

The tragedy of academia is that our society is prosperous enough so that they have been able to live without any sort of reality check.

It will be interesting to see what happens as fiscal realities begin to constrain their ability to be irrelevant at best, and malignant at worst.
MOM, yeah, I'm just a cockeyed optimist. When I was spit on by Vietnam war protestors you would think I would have realized the scope of the problem.

What keeps me optimistic is that the alternative is to just give up and do a high dive into a vodka bottle. If I had Russian blood that might be the solution. Damn Scots Irish blood says, "Fight on!"

Neil, you are spot on about the infiltration of academia. Many of the chanting spitters went on to become teachers and professors. The oh so left Ivy League and East Coast elites are the result. Conservatives were too bsuy earnig a living and getting things done to take sufficient notice.

When my kids were in school I knew there were problems, but I didn't know how deep they would become. My error, but I'm not the only one.

My word is ingratc - Italian for what Obama is?
ingratc - Czech for what the whole boiling academic-destructive infestation is.

It's worth noting that there are many in academia who don't belong, but control is basically ceded to those who do.

I do think Mamet is correct about the corruption of students' minds in all but the hard sciences and engineering.

BTW, Jimmy, I'm thinking about all this, but my hunch is that you are not overoptimistic. I think our problems are deep enough that they will force reform. We'll sulk, we'll cry, but we'll deal, because every consequence of the ugly reality that we fear just becomes worse the longer we wait.

It's the politicians who don't want to deal. Who Struck John seems to have been right about the number of election cycles it will take.
The people who go into government are the people who should never be allowed near government.

Yes - especially the presidency. Nobody crippled enough to go through what it takes to get there, should be allowed there.

I thought Obama was an empty suit. I did not realize he also did not like Americans or America.

M_O_M was ahead of the crowd on that one. I thought he was just a hack. She had him down far earlier than most, certainly way ahead of me.

I'm also alarmed by the Obama doctrine of limited engagements in unlimited countries not requiring even an AUMF.

Yeah, imagine the quaint idea of going to Congress for approval. Another one of those "advise and consent" things that 0bama finds so irritating.
I read the Peas Recipe and many of the comments.

They are truly hilarious, but leave me baffled.

Where do these people come from? Is this a flash mob of some sort? Is there a crowd of people who descend upon particularly stupid posts, or did the sheer inanity of the English Peas recipe turn her normal readers in raving maniacs?

From looking at Ms Dean's other recipes, the commentariat there does not do this by habit, though I admit that none of the other recipes were as silly as the "English Peas".

Anyhow, thanks for the link!
Bob - it is an interesting phenomenon. The reason I think it belongs in this post is that it turned into a sustained comic protest against the inanity of expertism, and on many of the commenters' parts, on the inanity of those who need an expert to tell them to heat a pot of peas on the stove and then make it unhealthy by dumping butter on it.

In many ways, it compares to Bullard's acknowledgment that gee, commodities are subject to asset price inflation. Who'd a thunk?

It aligns well with Jimmy's observations about not being able to understand why people ignore the obvious failures of tyrannies and the obvious failure of communism.
Rick & MOM,

"OK, Mark, I will take a shot at this. We are in a long process of obsoleting our Constitution. The 10 amendment is long gone."

I very much share those same anxieties. I do. Would my anxieties really disappear if I moved to Argentina though?

Cronyism and Corruption Are Killing Economic Freedom in Argentina
Mark, I agree. If we go down here, no place on Earth will be safe to run to for very long.

Mark, I agree. If we go down here, no place on Earth will be safe to run to for very long.

I think we can even rule places not on Earth out, lol. Sigh.

"The non-event was a great disappointment to hundreds of followers of a hitherto obscure California-based religious group called Family Radio, which had lavished millions of dollars on a worldwide advertising campaign proclaiming yesterday as Judgment Day."
Some people think New Zealand is cool.

The non-End of the World is cool for poking fun at.

The Camping guy takes all this stuff out of the bible, and mutates it into a time and a date - while ignoring 2 apostles who quoted Jesus as saying that 'But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven...' - the contradiction is amazing.
From the Paula Dean comments:

I didn't have these exotic peas in my pantry, but I did have English muffins. Also saw I was low on butter but had some bags of butter lovers microwave popcorn. I put the muffins and the popcorn in the pot over med heat and served. WOW!! The flavor was splendid, though the texture was undesirable."

Thank you for that, MOM
Undesirable texture is highly likely to become the least of our worries.
MOM and others,

A somewhat serious exposition about the peas. I am a damned good cook. I'm not a chef or a gourmet cook, but for the last 50 years or so I have put smiles on faces with my offerings.

I have tasted and used hundreds (thousands?) of ingredients and condiments. Very rarely do I use more than 4 or 5 thingies in a dish. Quite simply, peas and butter is as good as it gets. Mess with that recipe and you are missing the point.

The whole point of the peas post is that, very often, simple is better.

I thought the point of the recipe was that even canned peas taste good when they're boiled in butter.
(A pat or two on steamed spring peas is a whole other story.)
Okay, so I'd like to post something as silly as those comments on the peas recipe, but will add another comment instead. So many times lately, we've heard experts solemnly tell us that x is bad for us, only to reverse themselves later. Time to put the "butter is bad for you" to rest too. Margarine is a lot more unhealthy. And I used to be addicted to canned peas as a kid, so maybe it's just a Southern thing. (Did like the Mamet article, reminds me of David Horowitz or Tammy Bruce.)
The level of badness in the world is obvious when you watch the press conference featuring The One and the Leader of the Free World. On one side you have petulance and arrogance, on the other you have reason and reality. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Free World is only leading a nation of 6 million. Only 0.1% of the world is being led by a right-thinking adult. We're screwed.
Anon - if you are referring to the 1967 borders crap, I am still trying to get my eyeballs back in my head over that.

Forget even the feasibility of it, which is 0.

The moment that Obama said that, the Palestinian leadership was politically forced to take that as their starting position. Thus Obama has just unilaterally shut down any sort of peace negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that at a moment when the success of Iron Dome offered a chance to bring the parties to the table to start a process that could theoretically have been productive.

Is Obama evil? Is he stupid? Is he incorrigibly narcissistic? I do not know. If this is three-dimensional chess, it is apparently aimed against both the Palestinians and Israelis, and it is malignant. I would not like to believe that of him, but the other interpretations cannot be comforting either.
He is just a petulant child. Watch his face during the press conference. He is mad at Bibi for telling the truth instead of being mad at his advisors for giving him idiocy to spew. Bibi is the leader of the free world. Unfortunately, the free world is awfully small.
Anon @9:11, Bibi is not the leader of the free world, but he is the leader of all those in the free world who wish to remain free.
There are those who don't want to remain free, unfortunately.
Just heard Gov. Mitch Daniels won't be running. Scratch one of the grown-ups. I'm starting to get a sinking feeling...
Neil - yes, Daniels' "just say no" performance was today's piece of bad news. It is a real pity.

I gather that his wife would have been torn apart by the press, but I also have a hunch that Daniels just doesn't want to do it.

Word verification: "unbesina", which sounds Romanian for "most unlovely".
While we're on the subjects of jokes, and the lack of adults in the GOP race, how about Gingrich: "any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood"?

Somebody finally outdid Ron "that statement is inoperative" Ziegler.

OMG - the verification word is "expel"!!
Actually, even Friday, I'm pretty sure 0bama did say "with mutually agreeable swaps" after he said 1967 borders.

He emphasized that at AIPAC - they totally ate it up.

Which makes them ginormous fools.

Totally aside from the Palestininians taking May 1967 borders as a starting point, just exactly who is Israel supposed to negotiate with in order to get "mutually agreeable swaps"? Hamas, who will not conced Israel's right to exist?

The Palestinian Authority - who are now partners of Hamas, and who pay salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons?

The PLO, who still have not amended their Charter which calls Israel "entirely illegal"?

And finally, what "mutually agreeable" land swaps will result in a "contiguous Palestinian state" and be agreeable to everybody? You can't get there from here.
Bob - he just does not make sense. It's as if he wants to sound the right notes, but never bothers to worry about the melody.

I think he gave the speech to sound good and reasonable and all that, without thinking at all about the reality that the Palestinians and Israelis face.

The result is that he bent both the Palestinians and the Israelis over a barrel.

Was he saying that Israel should occupy Gaza, and cede a strip of Israel from the territory to Egypt? Nothing makes sense, nor can this be secure for either theoretical state.

It puts Abbas in an impossible negotiating position. Israel would like very much to achieve meaningful negotiations. What does this functionally MEAN?
The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

It sounds sort as if he is saying take the total land area and move it so that the new Palestinian territory borders Egypt. So that would involve mass expulsions of people.

I have a better idea. Israel can give back Gaza to Egypt (I'm Egypt will be just thrilled) and the west bank to Jordan, and then it will have real nations with which to fight a war when it keeps getting shot at. Next time it can just take all of Jordan, and then deport all the Palestinians to the east bank, and declare victory. As for Gaza, Israel can seize it and a nice buffer strip from Egypt, and then deport all the Gazans to Egypt.

That's the only way there'll ever be peace. The Palestinians have turned themselves into a howling mass of dogs; they can achieve nothing by themselves and can never have a state.

Here's a more friendly exposition, but you note that even his friends concede that it is now politically impossible for Abbas to negotiate about anything less, and since the "solution" is meaningless, that means in effect, no negotiations.

Look at the map at the link. What Obama says describes nothing politically achievable. It sounds good - but it offers no way forward.
You are close on 0bama.

Per Bill Whittle:

Let’s start at the top: with Barack Obama. Is he:

A. A Muslim-sympathizing, neo-Marxist true believer, who sees America and Capitalism as the principle barrier to fairness and world peace?

Or B, is he merely an empty suit, an unwitting pawn of much larger, hidden forces?

Or C, simply a self-obsessed, incompetent narcissist who happened to be at the right place at the right time.

I’ve given this a lot of careful thought, and I think the real answer is yes.
It sounds sort as if he is saying take the total land area and

You must stop. You will hurt yourself trying to follow his "logic".

I have a better idea. Israel can give back Gaza to Egypt (I'm Egypt will be just thrilled) and the west bank to Jordan

Which would make the Palestinians into Egyptian and Jordanian citizens, which is of course impossible, even though Israel absorbed 800,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab countries just after 1948. The Arabs - with more land and money than God - obviously can't do that because.....well, because.

...because they live in rigid tribal/clan-based societies where the focus is on dividing the pie amongst one's boys, not on wealth-creation. Add another tribe to the pie-dividing equation, and you've got trouble. Egypt and Jordan are being quite honest when they say they can't absorb the Palestinians. It would tear the social fabric apart.

Sadly, this ends one of three ways--a) the Palestinians learn to live in the West Bank as a client state of Israel, b) most of the Palestinians die, c) most of the Jews die.
Sorry to come in late, but ...

When you write of "the West Bank" you are repeating a lie. The phrase is an intrisic untruth, since the so-called "West Bank" is not the west bank of the River Jordan, but two giant lobes of hill country surrounding Jerusalem on three sides. It's ideal guerrilla territory, reaching more than halfway across the narrow neck of a country the size of New Jersey. This is a country under siege, a country that has been invaded by armies larger than her population more than once in living memory.

If "The West Bank" actually meant the west bank of the river, there might be something to talk about. But when even the nouns of the discussion are lies, the only thing to do is to educate the ignorant, if they will have it, and resist by main force those who try to win by lies what they have thus far failed to win by blood.
I don't get the love for Mitch Daniels. He's seems full of Reagan-esque double-think: get the government off people's backs while instituting more zero-tolerance policies.

Whenever I get disgusted with public policy, I read H.L. Mencken and realize that it's always been bad and getting worse. Half of me wants to keep up the fight and the other half of me realizes that the fight only strengthens the problem and that nobody seems patient enough to let the whole thing just burn itself out. Middle age brings an awareness that one no longer has enough time left on this mortal coil to see either way through.

The miracle of the Constitution isn't the system it spawned, it's the fact that the Constitution was spawned by the proper-but-painstaking work that went in to exactly identifying the problems. It's easy to be mad at the king, it's hard work to identify what the successions of kings in several states are doing wrong. But that is what spawned the Constitution and that itself took almost 200 years and some severe missteps to create the "miracle". Mamet STILL makes the mistake of adhering the the Great Man (Men) theory of history, which in my opinion is still the childish mistake made by the majority of mankind.

Problem solving is a mundane task that few have the fortitude to undertake.
Charles - Daniels is just a person who has the native instinct to improve things on the margin and to be careful of not making things worse if you can't fix them.

Governors - both D & Rs - have to deal with a range of real-world tradeoffs. I thought Daniels would be a good candidate because we need far more realistic policy discussions, and getting that type of experience into the race should improve the election debates.
NJCommuter - there is no way that Israel can do any of this. Discussing it makes clear that no real alternative is being offered, although trying to discuss it does tend to short out the logic circuits (as Bob notes).

If the Israelis did not care who they killed that would be one thing, but the Israelis do. They will not accept avoidable casualties among THEIR OPPONENTS, which sharply limits their options.

Would we wish the Israelis to abandon their humane philosophies? I can't.

Should be push them in a direction which would seem to require that they kill a lot of people? I can't see it as ethical.

Do we really expect the Israelis to accept much higher casualties of their own? If we do, we're nasty SOBs, and we're trying to destroy their humanistic culture in a different way.

I personally believe at this time that the Israelis are the leaders of the free world, because the "free" part of the free world is based on humanistic axioms, and the Israelis are holding most stubbornly of all to those humanistic axioms.

I think, btw, that not G_d but reality will take retribution upon us for this. This is but one symptom of the cult of fantasy that has dominated our political/economic culture for too long, and fantasy economies and cultures get corrected with some force.
Charles - your last comment is wonderful. Yeah - we have abandoned problem-solving for rhetoric. The pleasures of the rhetoric approach are fleeting, but the damage is felt unto the third and fourth generation.
Daniels is just a person who has the native instinct to improve things on the margin and to be careful of not making things worse if you can't fix them.

I don't see that at all. He is a hard core Drug War hawk.
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