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Saturday, September 16, 2017


While I try to think of something consequential to say, let me get a few vagrant thoughts off my mind and into cyberspace.

First:  In these terrible times, it is extremely important to take any pleasures life offers where and when they are offered.  Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Attorney-General of the United States, is arguably the most despicable person in America -- not the most evil, not the one first in line for eternal damnation, just the most despicable.  It is now reported that immediately upon the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, Donald Trump exploded and cursed out Sessions, calling him an idiot and suggesting that he resign.  Sessions later said it was the worst public humiliation of his life.  Now that isn't much, I admit, but God, it is something!  We must be thankful for small favors.  As William Kristol said when he first met Sarah Palin, it made a little thrill run up my leg.

Second:  I pose the following question as a general conundrum, suitable for debate on this blog.  Suppose it turns out that the 800,000 Dreamers can be saved from harassment and deportation at the price of an appropriation to build Trump's useless, worthless boondoggle, THE WALL.  Taking into consideration, on one side, the very real value of protecting the dreamers, and on the other side, the very real political danger of giving Trump any victories at all, should the Democrats take the deal?

Third:  Can anyone offer concrete, factual reasons for me to believe that Serena Williams will return from motherhood to play competitive tennis again?

Finally:  Can anyone explain to me the seemingly limitless TV fascination with The Undead?


howie b said...

The fascination with undead might be fallout from the American brand of Christianity and football, just don't ask me to elaborate

Jerry Brown said...

I don't know anything about the undead. Got nothing on Serena either- didn't even know she was a mother. Totally agree that Jeff Sessions is despicable but not sure he is the worst of the worst. But the WALL...

Yes the Democrats- I mean my representatives to Congress- should trade their opposition for the silly WALL for actual policy considerations that might help our people, or to keep Trump from doing harmful things. And considering that the guy did end up getting elected, and becoming President, and that the silly WALL was a major policy goal that he repeated endlessly, and again, that people did vote for that, then absolutely yes I want my guys in Congress to trade off their opposition to this for something useful. I mean it is just a wall- how bad could it be. We have built far more dangerous things and wasted more money and resources on more useless and harmful projects and weapons and wars than that.

A wall can always be taken down later anyways. If the best the Dems can get is safeguarding 800,000 innocent civilians they should do it. If they can get more they should try, but 800,000 to be allowed to retain their home is well worth a silly wall.

Carl said...

Of course the Democrats should take that deal. I don't see how it's a close call.

Ed Barreras said...

The Game of Thrones undead originate in the book series, which began in the mid-nineties. I don't get the fascination with zombies either, but even I'll admit to getting a thrill up my leg at seeing the zombified Ice Dragon (spoiler alert!).

As for the godforsaken Wall, it seems that even if Democrats accept your hypothetical deal, the current occupant of the White House will still be left explaining why Mexico isn't paying for it. In any case, let's take comfort in the fact that it's still a hypothetical deal, since evidently the actual deal excludes funding for The Wall.

Also, just breaking, the EU is announcing that the US won't be pulling out of the Paris Accords after all. Chuck Schumer must have some strange hypnotic powers.

LFC said...

Re Serena Williams:

Although I play tennis, I don't really follow the news re the professional game (though I used to, sort of). Some men on the tour presumably/probably took child-related leaves and returned to pro tennis, as well as some women, so I'm not sure why Serena W. wouldn't, assuming she wants to. It's an individual thing of course, dependent on a whole bunch of considerations that are no doubt only fully known, in this case, to Serena herself. I believe she's approaching the age at which many pro tennis players think about retiring or have already done so, but again, that's a very individual thing.

Charles Pigden said...

A sort of answer to your third question which is also puff for my movie-director son. In his comedy-horror 'I survived a Zombie holocaust' (basic plot: the set of a cheesy zombie movie is invaded by real zombies) the following snatch of dialogue occurs:

Runner [whose expertise in the genre is suddenly relevant]; Doesn't anyone except me actually watch zombie movies?
Preening, dim-witted and spectacularly buffed star: Vampires are just a lot more sexy.

As to why we are so obsessed with the undead, whether vampires or zombies, I have nothing to offer. But it is not just an American thing. Witness my son's movie (made in New Zealand) or my current downtime viewing which consists in watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Charles Pigden said...

Sorry that should have been 'your fourth question'.

Jerry Fresia said...

Never heard of The Undead. Ignorance is bliss.

Re The Wall and Dreamers: yes, take the deal with the following provision: The Wall will also function as a jobs program
for Dreamers. They will be trained in all sorts of ways - democratic enterprise, construction, engineering, development, design, architecture and so on. In addition, The Wall can, indeed, have solar panels, viewing decks, cafes, roof gardens, doors,
and shoots and ladders - afterwhich, a portion of the proceeds will be paid to the US government in perpetuity. And in the spirit of "the art of the deal," the name of the wall, emblazoned with giant fluorescent tubes that pulsate in rainbow colors - and, of course, viewable from space, will be TRUMP. Everybody's happy.

Ted Talbot said...

My take: The higher-quality undead films and series (Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead and Romero’s films) can present fascinating social Gedankenexperiments in how people might behave in the absence of recognized political authority – in the Walking Dead, the scenarios range from utopian communist communities to military dictatorships to ruthless tyrannies. The zombies themselves resonate with the modern fear of terrorists as no longer human beings, diseased, oblivious to their own personal safety, hell-bent on killing for it‘s own sake. The overall apocalyptic visions express the customary Kulturpessimismus of a domineering world power (in his Nietzsche seminar, my old German professor at Columbia, Joe Bauke, once remarked that „it was easy being a pessimist if your boot rested on the neck of a Frenchman“).

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Vincente Fox's video about running for President? If not, you should.

Enam el Brux said...

Anyone who commutes on the New York City subway system to and from their office jobs knows who the zombies are: yourself and your fellow commuters, united in abysmal enslavement. The internal, qualitative experience of the conscious non-zombie is a liability. Consciousness might lead its possessor to plead for decent working conditions or fair pay. One proper capitalist response to consciousness is to require passion, especially where urgent but menial labor is concerned. This will tend to produce in the workforce its opposite. Over time, gene-culture coevolution will yield the zombie, a creature that lacks an inner life, doesn't know its own immiseration and has no clue that it is being exploited.

TCP said...

Inferiority/superiority in which the person can be grandiose, and directly represent themselves as perfect, or indirectly be perfect through their inability to admit to mistakes, is decently known. Instead of feeling inferiority the person identifies with perfection, but we can still see the inferiority in the way that they need to convince others of their greatness or are unable to admit to mistakes.

Less well known is the aliveness/deadness binary that often relates to mania/depression. Some patients can describe feeling emptiness, "not thereness," or straight forwardly tell you that a part of them feels dead, just as some can tell you about their inferiority or self-hate for being a nobody, for example. Manic patients have defended against the deadness, just as grandiose/superior patients have defended against inferiority.

The undead, like anything, will have many meanings in psychoanalysis, but a major input will be losing a loved one, feeling unsupported by others, or some ego injury that leads to identifying with the other who isn't there.

For some addicts, the addiction represents something that is alive and will make them feel alive instead of feeling dead.

This is an answer from individual psychology, but for something to become a fashion means that many people will be drawn to it or use it in their art because of other motivations.

On the level of group psychology, the leftist sense of injustice and harm to the other implies a dead parent who isn't there to support or foster others. There could be a connection here with modern liberal sentiments...

h said...

In my youth I went in for an analysis and read a lot of Freud. Freud showed a fondness for cultural analysis, ie. Da Vinci and Moses- in his dream analysis he avoided doctrinaire interpretations- the chain of free associations uncover their meaning- so perhaps thinking of zombies as vacant drones on the number 3 train or as dehumanized others might serve a utility of secondary gain or ideological pertness.
Fromm might agree with you all, but Freud might quash his cigar butt in the ashtray of speculation

alexim89 said...

Fascination with zombies derives from the view everyone has of other people that are external to our own restricted circles. Mindless, broken creatures that want only to eat us and every one can became one of them.

Jonathan Strassfeld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Strassfeld said...

No, Democrats should not budge an inch on the wall. It is not merely a ridiculous and ineffectual barrier, but a physical manifestation of racist violence. It would serve to to normalize violence (a beautiful wall - at least form the American side) implicit in restricting the movement of peoples (here I am doing a poor job of repeating an argument made very well by Paul Steege in a talk this summer. To get a better sense of his argument on walls and violence I suggest his short piece on his experience in Berlin: ). By accepting the wall to keep dreamers, we co-sign onto violence against poor immigrants and migrants to protect those whom we view as more deserving.

Regarding zombies, my understanding is that traditionally they are a symbol of proletarian revolution. However, I think much of our present fascination with cinematic zombies owes simply to the fact that they authorize the spectacle of violence against the human form without forcing us to consider the ethics of such violence.