Recent comments of mine at Salon.com



WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 11:45 PM

Oliva Does It danaseilhan
I don't know of a single feminist group or site that doesn't seek to be inclusive. 
I agree, but that doesn't mean that they aren't. My guess is that it owes to part of their psyches not being able to shut out the fact that women of colour tend to be more conservative than they are -- Brittney Cooper's discussion of childrearing "styles" brought this out in full bloom last week. 
Their conscious selves may be blithely insisting that they are no more progressive than other "sisters," but their unconscious awareness of it as fact is why there is fight to institutionalize their own voice and ultimately arbitrate what feminism is to be about -- i.e. whitesplain. 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 6:25 PM
Is it between different viewpoints, or between those who've benefited from more helping, less punitive upbringings and those who haven't? Different psychoclasses, that is. 
Brittney is coming to see spanking as perhaps not the best way to raise a child, but still can't see parents who've long ago realized this as not guilty of likely "spoiling" their children (presumably she'd have all of them attend her lectures as well). She's probably somewhere just above the American median. 
Progressivism is about the most emotionally evolved taking the lead in a society. These are always those who as kids never understood themselves as "bad" but as full of promise. They don't need to be "disciplined,""socialized," in order to be good, just provided unconditional love. 
The ones a step or more below will tend to want to take control of progressive moments to staunch growth as much as encourage it. To them, too much societal advancement comes to seem indulgent, people taking good ideas always "too far," requiring the more sober to take over. 
A lot of those feminists taking flight from the internet sense this, and are hoping their new exclusive abodes can manage to direct progressivism. On the net, they're swarmed, and can't operate.



SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 9:21 PM
al loomis Patrick McEvoy-Halston
I think we mostly project charisma onto leaders, so I'm not "great man." Usually we put in people who don't so much lead but execute our own (often sordid) wishes. Puppets of the people, not the system -- which too is in fact an artifact of our collective need, as hard as that is to believe. 
This said, if we see the presidency as an avenue to put forth a personality we all have abundant contact with, it'd be great if it was someone like Nader. Kind of like as if someone had set up a shop on your block that resonated decency and kindness. Even if you didn't shop there, it being near, something you frequently pass by, would encourage and buoy you. 
        

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 9:13 PM
YankeeProwler However, the interesting epilogue to the Obama presidency is that it is winding down in a time when America is once again becoming needed. In Poland and the Baltic states, jittery leaders are once again calling for American assistance as they face a threat from the east. In the Middle East, leaders from Tehran to Riyadh are urging America to fight a scourge that threatens to engulf them all. In West Africa, leaders are calling for American assistance to help contain a different type of virus.
This has pretty powerful narrative appeal (genuinely, thanks for it) -- a bit Tennyson. I wonder if the rest of the world finds the idea of the old, gruff, long passed-over "gunfighter," possessed anew with relevancy, as appealing as we (sorry, but unfortunately) do. 
I hope they realize that that scourge about to engulf them all is mostly just projected "fantasy" ... it satisfies our fantasy (our psychological) needs of the moment, and we have to be aware of this, and resist it. 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 7:24 PM
 He began the process of moving the country away from our profoundly unfair and overpriced catch-as-catch-can private health insurance system toward some kind of socialized medicine. (Yeah, I said it.)
You're right, this was no small thing. We as a populace staked something down here that we're not going to fall back from. Or, that is, that we'll never quite ever be able to delete as a marker of where we'd come and where we'll return to. It felt a little bit like that tremor we experienced this year when we collectively realized that America was not going to be stuck with football as something we're all expected to pledge allegiance to -- something else, soccer (Europeanism), informed apathy/disgust, got elevated a bit. This happened too with drugs and marriage. 
It's a big deal when some external "sites" that serve to keep primitive psyches stable, and thus are kept for the longest time sacred, can be felt to no longer satisfy a(n evolving) populace. Obama was the guy we wanted kept around to "govern" this. Agreeable, reassuring company, like Steve Jobs.
        
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 2:09 AM
marymargaret1
Why is it ok to hit a child when doing the same to an adult will land you in jail?
Because too many of us unconsciously think especially vulnerable people deserve punishment, simply for being vulnerable -- they're actually guilty of something. This comes from how our brains react to sadistic treatment from our parents as children. We need foremost to make our parents right for inflicting the abuse, so to keep them as we have to have them -- loving and supportive. And so we make whatever it was we did to warrant the abuse contestable, bad, evil. Since the foremost thing that comes to our mind is just our sheer vulnerability -- because that's how we mostly felt -- our brains decide this is a crime. 
When we hear of children being hit, we remember our own former "guilty" selves, and agree (with our internalized parental alters, whom we are temporarily wholly fused with) that they are being unconscionably bad. 
At the societal level, the reason you can see in some parts so much hate for society's desperate, now calling for the likes of sterilization, owes entirely to this as well. 

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 9:44 PM
@Arminta Ross Black parents forcing their children to "demonstrate" in public that they are "good, well behaved, mannered." The goal was to prove to onlookers, specifically whites that they were not harmful.
What is kept alive here is the idea that our mommies and daddies abused us ... because they had to! It was for our own good! -- historical circumstances necessitated it, unfortunately. 
What isn't being considered is that what we're dealing with here aren't loving parents miraculously capable of doing awful things to their children when necessary, but abused parents casually visiting the same harms inflicted on themselves (by their parents) upon their own children. 
And doing so, because they were never given enough love not to mostly need their children to provide the love they never received, rather than love them. Nor not to be furious at them when they focused on themselves (i.e., were "selfish," or "bad"). 
My parents are German and Irish. The collective lack of love of Germans meant that during the 30s and 40s they were going to need some group to project all of their own "badness" onto (as it turns out, those who had the best childrearing  -- the "spoiled" Jews), so they could finally feel worthy of love by their punitive parental alters (their parents' voice in their heads). 
The poorly loved (American) South needed to find some group -- i.e. slaves -- for the same psychological purpose. The Northerns were products of more loving childhoods, so not only no slavery but they got rid of it elsewhere. 
We're divided not mostly by race but by the emotional health of our parents, of the nature of the quality of the mother/daughter dyad across centuries.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 7:32 PM
No parent lovingly spanks their child. They're always fused with internal persecutors in their own minds that see the child as bad regardless of what he or she was doing. 
In fact, since many parents are so insufficiently loved they often need their children more than they love them, the "bad" thing they most often end up getting beaten/abandoned for is simply focusing on themselves, some kind of growth, being happy. The parent recognizes the child's desire to attend to his/her own needs rather than the parents -- it is their own desire -- and becomes in an instant their own parents, fuses with them, and attacks the child without guilt.
When children are abused by parents/caretakers, survival depends on understanding themselves as to blame. They decide they deserved it; they must have been bad; and thereby keep the parent as the kind of person they need for them to be: a loving protector. 
So powerful is this lesson learned -- that growth and "selfish" self-attendance is a bad thing, and, as well, weakness, neediness and vulnerability -- they install their parent's "voice" into their own heads (right hemisphere), and switch into it when they recognize people "guilty" for behaving as they did as a child.
You get into this enough, the repercussions of insufficiently loved parents and their children, of collective fusing with the perpetrator's voice and projecting one's "bad" self onto others, and you start finally get at the source of why war, of why Depressions (mass elimination of wealth means less spoiling, less badness, less likelihood of worse punishment). 
Maybe check it out at psychohistory.com. 
        
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2014 3:44 AM
sharksbreath Sports isn't for everybody and I'm sure you learned that real early in gym class. 
Yes, it's for those who need defensive testing and disproof of fears, which temporarily wards of feelings of insecurity and helplessness. 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2014 2:50 AM
The current economy is not just about people staring at a screen but people interacting -- what waiters, baristas, sales associates do. It's less male-autistic (man make automobile), which when we value the potential of what goes on in these interactions, and value them accordingly with high wage and public esteem, will show progress over the last forty years rather than just humiliating leftovers. A nation committed to (conversational) therapy, to registering and seeing people, adding a little bit more self-esteem to the average person so that they repeat less upon their children the damage inflicted upon them. Some stranger did do a little bit to make your day, got your smile, and, in aggregate, made an impact. 
It's not just a pipe dream; it's happening now through all the obvious overt corporate policies of manipulation ("welcome to --; how may I help you?"). And we have to allow ourselves to see and value it.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2014 2:22 AM
 Indeed, an individual citizen’s most important economic role, in the post-industrial West, is that of a consumer, inhaling goods, products, services and entertainment, as much of that as possible delivered electronically or shipped to your door.
I think their most important role is to make good play with the creative product. I think how it helps economically is that they haven't switched into a mindset that has them thinking of sparse goods and smaller selves with "God" now looking at them more fondly. 
They're keeping up. Which is good, because this not only means the latest Apple but taking on institutions like football and protected nerd-turf stuff like sexist video games, where a great gab of Americans are seeing things previously mostly off the table being re-thought as much as marriage and drug use have been. With the latest intrusions on football and (especially) video games/nerd culture, however, you could feel some former Obama supporters wonder if their own favorite resting spots are now due to be as destabilized as Tea Partiers found just about all of theirs. 
Roth (and Updike) is to be preferred over Rowling, because the emotionally more healthy subsequent generations haven't yet been allowed their post-war, post great-sacrifice, heyday. After we weather through a period of old left, of Depression, of sanctified self-sacrificial selves, of war, those who remain intact will take their inherently more egalitarian selves and produce even greater things -- 20 years on, maybe?
After great, hugely wasteful sacrifices, of innocent people being decimated and learning to make due with what little they have, people know allowance is throned, that societal regressives are backed off, and take advantage of it.  
        
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 7:45 PM
I don't think they would seem so much of a threat unless we've projected our own childhood terrors onto them. This would mean we're for some reason being recalled to childhood feelings of exposure and vulnerability right now. 
If so, this would mean seeing ourselves stand up to these perpetrators amounts to what it be for a previously bullied child to finally manage the same with his/her tormenters: absolutely everything, that is.  
        
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2014 4:21 PM
susan sunflower
I don't think it's myth, or passed on cultural traditions, that does it; more inadequate childrearing. Children who've learned that when they desist in their own interests and commit to those of their caretaker's they finally get approval and love otherwise denied, will be prone to volunteer to sacrifice themselves -- their selfish, individuated adult lives -- in war. 
In death, so selfless, and -- as infantry -- so infantile, they feel they'll be forever appreciated and loved, swaddled for all time in their mother's love. 
Many of those boys who refused to answer their nation's call would have done the rejecting themselves. That is, we internalize our parent's disapproving, angry voice, and when we're raging against other's sins we're completely fused to it. Which is why we call those we're fighting and killing names we were ourselves called in our own childhoods. 
        
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2014 2:32 PM
susan sunflower
His motivation wasn’t a matter of “Muslim rage” or “hatred for the West.” He felt himself to be moved by “compassion.” Like many Americans whose feelings of patriotism compel them to join the military, Knight yearned to “fight oppression and protect the safety and dignity of others.”
This could just be a yearning to stand as a knight protecting a culture. It's a way to be a "good boy," a mother country's favorite, rather than someone who as a seventeen year old is on the verge of abandoning his childhood origins – of abandoning his mother -- for independence and adulthood. Regressive fusion with a maternal entity as the first step, that is. Later the rage against a West imagined as sinful and spoiled, as polluted and "bad,” as his own former self. 
He didn't do this. But he still became traditional, humbling himself into a life of Islamic studies, clearly in his view seen as at-root pure (steadying elders; Muhammad's wise words); and vomited all over repugnant American values, as well as his own former corrupt self.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2014 12:11 AM
Of all things, “Last Days in Vietnam” is a tale of heroism, courage and selflessness; a tale about how many American servicemen, intelligence officers and diplomats risked their careers and in some cases their lives to rescue as many Vietnamese civilians as possible.
So war is (an avenue for) heroism, courage and selflessness. 
The weak spot where the ISIS videos worm their way in is not some deep-seated, grandiose desire to see our civilization destroyed, since we don’t really need to wish for that one anymore. It’s our persistent boredom, our permanent consumer narcosis, our yearning to be entertained at any cost by cute things and funny things and horrifying things that may or may not be real. 
So everyday is boredom, permanent consumer narcosis, and ridiculousness. 
How sure are you that someone reading these two articles of yours wouldn't be a bit more persuaded to begin a major conflict than remain part of the status quo? Maybe war has to remain an easy way to make yourself feel pure -- something where selfishness mostly abounds. And people keeping themselves enjoyably occupied while no major wars are being fought, kept a bit more virtuous. 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 1:32 AM
The war got rid of a lot of American wealth, which if we'd kept would've made us feel extremely guilty. We waste so much wealth with the military because we're a nation that feels worthy of punishment when we accrue good things. The explanation for every nation in the world now going austerity, which kills wealth production, lies in this (ill)reason as well. We suppress growth, and the demons won't devour us. 
                 
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 4:53 PM
CarolCrown I don't trust that those calling for civility and decency are really thinking of the brilliant conversations we could be having; I think they've become those who hate comment sections because they're an avenue where nobodies might make a difference: full of people (like their once selves) of (guilty) pretension. 
If they can get everyone to look at comments as censors rather than as learners, you've got them as perturbed adults rather than as open-minded children. It's in favor of a conservative culture. 
        
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 11:32 PM
Pamela Troy
I increasingly suspect that the liberal intellectual class is feeling prone in their regression to make swaths of the country obviously worth a pass-by. As possessed only of virtue maybe when joining together to fight a corporation, or just in their suffering, but not where something intellectual and smart could arise. 
The history of the net proved there are obvious major centers but that genius really is everywhere. The hippies were right. To hold onto this truth means believing, really believing, in growth, which just feels too sinful and against the current right now. So we/they collude in isolating only certain controlled spots as worth attending to. Ivy Leagues, already recognized writers, etc. 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 11:04 PM
People used to see criminals simply as “bad,” just as they saw other races that way. They needed categories of people they could split unwanted aspects of themselves into -- their felt intrinsic badness -- which they could now subject to name-calling and abuse from out of their own childhoods. Better raised, more loved people, with much less of a need to inject parts of themselves into others, began to see criminals for who they actually are, that is, as just very abused people -- the last people, in fact, to deserve further incarceration and torture. They saw constituents of other races simply as individuals, with no way of assuming anything about them until one became familiar. 
So perhaps liberals will take care that when they're insisting on killing "trolls," participating in changing our paradigms so we no longer so much see democratic comment sections but wretched abodes to stay clear of, that they're not regressing and creating poison containers again.
What they might do is, yes, actively help stop people from being threatened and hurt; ban perpetrators; but also maintain a celebration for individuals who in comment sections say such interesting things. Not the faux celebration stuff, where administers single out comments which suggest their ideal is someone of middling intelligence but who might still be capable of learning something. But rather the stuff Salon has seen a lot of in its history: the remarkable.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 6:53 PM
I'm suggesting this because we now know that when people administered repeated shocks in the Milgrim experiments they weren't obeying authority but rather taking advantage of an authoritative situation -- the power of the university -- to switch into perpetrator alters that saw vulnerable people as deserving punishment. (Here, the authoritative situation which absolves us mostly of guilt is that this has become the phenomena we're all expected in some way to have engaged with -- tackling the internet, nudity, and privacy -- to show we're keeping up and actually give a damn about our world. To have looked means not only not being ignorant but being capable of a more engagement-worthy, bravely self-incriminating and hard-won opinion, as TCF hopes I think to have demonstrated.)
When children are abused they don't blame the perpetrators but rather themselves -- it's a life-saving tendency, because they need to see caretakers as provisioning and good. This means that even children who've been raped will start talking in voices that show they believe they deserved it. They'll take dolls, which clearly they see as representing themselves, and start stabbing at them and shouting them, calling them dirty and bad. And by no means do they inevitably grow out of it -- in fact, those alters are probably set up for life. 
We're dumping ice buckets on our heads, probably staging our once being left out in the cold, whether literally or figuratively (we get the thrill, in restaging previous terrors, of knowing some control). Our childhood traumas are popping back into our awareness; and personally, I think most of us have set up these self-protective perpetrator alters and are finding ourselves prone to fuse with them.  
        
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 6:11 PM
It is nice to know you could look at the pictures, recognize your younger self in them, and feel concern. 
A lot of people might be drawn to look at these photos, however, because the voice speaking predominately in their heads is that of a perpetrator, the one which tells us we are bad, that we deserve to suffer, rather than one which ostensibly lead you that speaks curiosity. They'd not so much recognize their younger selves in the proud bodies, now exposed, but project onto them, actually enjoying partaking in the humiliation of their proud, hopeful, vulnerable younger selves. 

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 10:29 PM
In his book, Deresiewicz said we as parents are intimidating our children from individuating (from us) too much. He talked psychoanalysis, "You-shall-not-be -aware!" Alice Miller, and Tiger Moms. And the result is a society where we've agreed not to (emotionally) abandon our kids, and where they've been terrified out of ever growing up. 
How did we as parents become so awful? The explanation comes from the fact that we mostly individuated from our parents; we grew up in eras that had such allowance (all that delayed infanticide during the Depression and World War 2 bought decades of subsequent trespasses). But, like the 1920s crowds, we knew there eventually was going to be a price paid ... and are visiting the price on our own kids while we fuse with the regressive voice. 
At some level we feel good that we've created a society where if you're a brilliant middle classer who doesn't get into the Ivy Leagues, everything you might do will be faded out of vision because your role is simply to count as one of the lost (that's where you'll get your approval), and we'll insist on it in our attentions at least. And if you get into the Ivy Leagues, there's got to be a limit to how much new you'll produce, simply because you'd of had to have been the kind of person who obliges a whole lot. Counter measures (against kindled mass individuation and growth), everywhere.  
Deresiewicz might get some to drip down a tier, but that'll just mean dropping them amongst others who actually take satisfaction from dramatizing themselves as thwarted -- because that is the role we want them to play: warm approval given -- which would be hell. It'll mean being amongst those content to ape their "betters," who'll implicitly recognize/affirm their superiority, because this too suggests those who've capitulated to smaller dreams than the "spoiled" middle class post-war Americans did.
And if they figure out the cure for cancer, annoy us by being the ones to do so, something about who they are will have to be attenuated so we can, quick as spit, go back to staring at the Ivy Leaguers, who glow as if imbibed with what had previously been displaced everywhere. 
SUNDAY, AUGUST 24, 2014 4:36 PM
My response was psychoanalytic, but still appropriate -- the book does go there. He talks not just Alice Miller but a good stretch of "Tiger Moms" ... of parents who terrify their children into quiescence, who cannot possibly be disobeyed by the child. 
I'm suggesting that we as a society keep these moms in our heads and realize that there is nothing that draws their ire more than when we individuate from their expectations and needs. When we do so anyway, seeing ourselves in the upcoming generation of youth we fuse with our angry maternal alters and make sure that they at least pay. 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 24, 2014 3:57 PM
You didn't do Ivy, but the question is, if you were born a generation later, would you have? My guess is that you would, and we've a much more streamed, eager-to-please Laura Miller to find there, but still Laura Miller. 
It may be that while those who get into the Ivyies are being told to be exultant -- or else -- that those who get into the "State" ones are being "told" they're dumb, unexceptional, second class. The primary purpose of our age may be to still the capacity of youth to individuate -- a purpose, built out of an unconscious need to sacrifice youthful potential in order to placate abandoned parents in our heads ("alters"), who are furious at all the growth we assumed for ourselves.
Deresiewicz may be participating in this by doing all he can to shepherd talented youth into abodes where it's going to be tough to shake off the feeling they've got no special shine really. That nobody's attending to what they do, and that nobody ought to be attending.
He, after all, talks in his book about the terrifying power, the terror of, parents, and admits it’s been tough for him to get past himself. He assumes he's doing so by calling for youth to start distancing themselves from their parents by risking becoming truly disagreeable to them, and by leading society into directions that are novel but which we all may not be comfortable with. But he could be abating their fury by shoveling that many more into places that'll deny them societal feedback that what they are doing really is worth something. 
Maybe ten years from now, when this call, this need, for a lost generation has ended, the Laura Millers will once again be going back to "publics" ... but mind you, the Ivyies will by then have changed their ways as well. The time for the middle class nobody to not be allowed -- because this would commit the sin of demonstrating our world as of genuine potential -- to be seen as having achieved anything notable, will have ended, and we'll be for merit and promise again.


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20, 2014 12:33 AM
You're getting everything you want out of life ... and so regress to the teenager who hasn't learned to control her finances, and who is a dwarf to her almighty mother, out of fear of the sense of abandonment that full individuation often brings. 
Giving your husband your credit card would correct an image of him which is no longer serviceable ... that of him as someone who "transcends any traditional notions of marital division of labor." Giving him the credit card would make him 50's mold; make him a degradation of what you've accomplished. Sacrificing that, you're the good girl who never grew beyond her mother, and you feel taken care of again.  

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