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Saturday, September 10, 2016


I have been suffering debilitating pain in my neck and shoulders for some days now, and after several visits to the doctor, I have concluded that it is muscular tension [perhaps a pinched nerve] brought on by anxiety over the election.  I have stopped my endless watching of cable political shows and my obsessive surfing of the web for scraps of news about the campaign.  I will continue to volunteer for the North Carolina campaign [I have just returned from several hours registering passersby on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill], but otherwise I will work on my Kant lectures  and try to survive until election day in November.  

I have never been very good at relaxing, and it seems counterproductive to work on being relaxed, but I need to find some way to come to terms with the fact that close to half of adult Americans are prepared to vote for Donald Trump.  I am not a patriot, and I am, I thought, under no illusions about America, but I confess that even I have been devastated by the level of support in this country for a fascist racist xenophobic buffoon.

On the other hand, there have been more than 7,800 views of my first Kant lecture.  I am thinking of going on the road doing stand-up as an opening act for Beyonce.  My riff on the Transcendental Deduction has always been a crowd pleaser.


Chris (not the one who normally posts here) said...

Hope you start to feel a little better by disengaging from the media blather.

My preferred medium for following the moment-to-moment twists and turns of the election has been Twitter, just because there's ALWAYS something new to read there. The last two nights I have been unable to sleep, and around 4 a.m. or so last night I realized I was just visualizing new Twitter posts endlessly stream across my mind's eye. That can't be healthy!

Tom Hickey said...

Perhaps take some consolation in the high probability that a significant portion of the support for Trump is by way of anti-establishment and anti-status quo protest rather than approval or agreement.

IMHO, the best ways to learn to relax quickly is learning to meditate. A second option is hypnosis. Hypnosis is a quick intervention that is successful for some people. Meditation is a longer term and requires commitment.

There are many types of meditation, and one can even learn to mediate following online instructions. Results may vary.

I recommend looking at Transcendental Meditation™. I started in 1971 after trying some other options as a grad student. I was so pleased with the results that I became a teacher in 1976.

Based on my own experience with this meditation and as a teacher of it, I found that results generally come quickly. It's is easy to learn and simple to practice. Lots of research has been done on the benefits, and it is recommended by medical professionals for some conditions like hypertension.

The downsides are that it must be learned from a qualified teacher over several days and there is a fee. But it is a worldwide program that has been taught for over fifty years and it's generally not difficult to find a center if one is close to a city. Instruction is available in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham (Triangle area) Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem (Triad area), Wilmington, Greenville, NC, according to the web site.

If you are interested in trying hypnosis, contact North Carolina Society of Clinical Hypnosis for a qualified practitioner.

howard b said...

Professor Wolff:

An off the cuff stab at an explanation-

Most Trump supporters do not think they are fascists, because by definition America is the good guys or they have no clue.
Even many Nazis did not think of themselves as fascists.
Most people do not or can not think. They sense something is wrong and Trump sounds the most self confident- so they pick him.
It's some variant of Fromm's Escape From Freedom.
People just want solutions and they don't want what they consider bullshit, and there is a power vacuum in the governance of the country that has been filled by FOX and the right wing of the Republican party.
Twenty years ago Buchanan lost the Republican primaries.
The sewer that is Trump has been sucked ashore. Buchanan is a rational actor. Trump is not.
It's not just that people can't think or that irrationally they believe that Trump can be trusted better than Clinton, it's that they just have their own immediate life and what they hear on TV or read on the web.
They have no one to turn to, so they turn to Trump.
Trump makes sense of the reference of their daily lives

howard b said...

Have you given up on the Princeton Election Consortium altogether?
Our shock and despair might not entirely correspond to the actual reality, though it is a bit uneasing

Jerry Fresia said...

Just as I began reading this particular blog and you were describing your new ailment, I sat up straight and said, "Hey, that's what I have"....just the pain part, not the obsession with the election. So I was hoping that you were going to tell us that you found some magic pill. But relief came anyway - first a tickle with the great description of Trump ("for a fascist racist xenophobic buffoon") and then I began laughing out loud....on the road stand up for Beyonce - I'm still laughing. Pain is gone!

s. wallerstein said...

The last time I looked Marine Le Pen was leading the polls for next year's presidential election in France. There will be a run-off and undoubtedly, the
Socialists and the conventional right will unite to defend the National Front once again, but France is as wealthy and as educated as the U.S. and voters show the same level of racism and xenophobia as they do in the U.S. So the rise of Trump seems to be par for the course for a wealthy capitalist democracy post crisis of 2008. There's the Brexit vote in the U.K., the rise of the far right in Germany and in Austria, etc. Unless one believes that the U.S. is somehow special and blessed by God, there is nothing surprising about Trump.

Jerome Doolittle said...

Take a look at The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook (, based on the theories of Janet Travell, JFK's doctor. Works for me (hands and back). Good luck.

Tom Cathcart said...

Your election news abstention therapy (ENAT) sounds good, but I'm guessing you'll be a non-compliant patient. We'll be watching this space.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Ah, Tom, how well you know me!

Carl said...

That you can even tolerate the drivel that is cable news election coverage mystifies me.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

I'm sorry to hear about your pain Prof, and I hope it abates soon! I can relate, though my pain was much more psychic than physical (at least, I think so! Heh.)

I'm with Carl; I can't imagine watching any cable news programs regularly. The only news shows I ever watched with some regularity - Maddow and Hayes - I quit watching some time ago.

If you must watch or listen to something about the election, I recommend the humorous takes of The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, and Seth Meyers (all available on YouTube), or the relatively staid coverage of Minnesota Public Radio ( Even these sources I use sparingly however. Best wishes with your ENAT, Prof!

Pete S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete S said...

May you feel better soon Professor!

I've been meaning to ask you for a long time to make a post on patriotism, and you reminded me by mentioning it. Apart from right-wing radicals, the value of nationalism as a virtue or an ideal is widely known, but how about patriotism? Some consider it as the meaning of life itself (I could have used quotation marks here, for sure) and some view it as Bertrand Russell did (as far as I know), quote, "The chief curse of our time, which will end civilization if it cannot be mitigated". It would be very interesting to have your opinion on this matter.