The purpose of Liah Greenfeld's Mind, Madness and Modernity (2013) is to make evident that
*culture is an empirical reality of the first order in human life, what makes us human and defines human experience.
*madness in its new form—the big three of contemporary psychiatry—schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression—was brought about by nationalism, the cultural framework of modernity, our secular, egalitarian, essentially humanistic and democratic world, insisting on the dignity and creativity of man and the value of human life. The other side of the coin, proof that benefits have costs.
Peter Turchin, End times: elites, counter-elites, and the path of political disintegration, 2023.
Turchin is one of the founders of the new 'science' of cliodynamics, a discipline which coalesced in the 1990s, statistical juggling 'facts' from the past, stitched together from bare bones (literally) of archeology, climate, geopolitics, crimes, arrests/ executions, wine imports, lots and lots of numbers. There's probably even a case for kitchen sinks. Think: weather forecasting. My favourite historian, Arnold Toynbee, when asked by a critic what the secret of history was, answered: Just one damned thing after another. Well, it seems Turchin has finally trumped the great master.
What better source for the 'goods' on religion than a born-again evangelist (a proud member of MENSA and Prometheus Society) who not only 'saw the light' but who convinced both parents and one of his brothers to join him in apostasy. It struck me Barker is much like a gay who rejects the norm, 'comes out' to his parents (mothers cave almost immediately to prima dons), and turns his folks into gaylib activists. His self-advertisement and its 'heppi end' is sooo American, even a cameo appearance by Oprah Winfrey, it's either touching or over-the-top hilarious. The parallel is apt as gay and atheist somehow are synergies, slightly disorienting, but to be tolerated, both discarding old-fashioned bigotry in favour of freedom, liberty, Paul Revere.
The mid-19th c was phenomenal. So many brilliant composers, scientists, philosophers, genuine geniuses like Marx and Darwin. The age of Prometheus. What Man could achieve seemed limitless. Man shaking his fist at God. Or even taking over, revolting against God. Atheism became the fashion among the intelligentsia. It's as if God got His revenge in the 20th c, showing Man just how childish, ignorant, hateful he could be. Without God. So was it all Marx's fault? What would he do?
Next to workers of the world unite!, Marx's religion is the opium of the people is a meme that is embedded in our consciousness. But like most good things in life, it is misquoted.
Cosmopolitan -- 'world politics', 'world citizen' -- people of many races under a world empire. The word became a meme in the 1890s as British empire blossomed, supposedly the world now united around principles of the free market. Sounds cool. The market is the proven way to run economies. It is neutral, no favorites, harsh but just, making us work hard, the state ensuring people don't cheat and undermine the sacred system. For if belief in all this wavers, the loss of faith in the market would spell doom for all, equally. We are equal before the law, and we can vote. That's what democracy and freedom are all about, right?
But is the apparent real?
In 2018, a majority of millennials said boomers had ‘made things worse’ for their generation. They tried to liberate us, and instead of freedom they left behind chaos.
In all fields touched by the six boomers profiled here---technology, entertainment, economics, academia, politics, law---what they passed on to their children was worse than what they inherited.
Andrews is senior editor at The American Conservative, and her book is a jeremiad, with the flavour of Old Testament divine justice, a call for owning up to one’s sins. The sins are many and the style is refreshingly unapologetically angry. The boomers should not be allowed to shuffle off the world stage until they have been made to regret their actions… In a just world there would be cosmic retribution for taking Jobs’s life’s work and turning it to the most boomerish purposes imaginable.
Trying to have a good time without a car is challenging. There are lots of scenic bits in Ontario, in Canada for that matter, but the bike magazines just assume you have a car with bike racks and plan to drive 'there', park and bike. Sorry, but you're still part of the problem. And you should be going somewhere, like Amundsen. You can be the first cyclist to reach the South Pole only in your dreams, but you can find Everests, what's doable and a challenge, wherever you are. We have to reinvent tourism if we are to survive.
GO trains have been a godsend. When they added Kitchener (Berlin till 1914*), armed with my faux sleeping bag, I planned my next adventure: Berlin Paris Brantford Hamilton. Europe, colonialism all wrapped up together. Kitchener/Berlin was newly discovered land for Eric Cyclist, and biking from Berlin to Paris? Cool.
Over time I have accumulated 'my favourite Shakespeare hits' as doses of vitamin, my protein drink, as I ride. I love to find the bull's eyes and implant them, so they can come to my aid. Reciting aloud or in my mind is like playing Beethoven on the piano. Imitating speech (and song) is what makes us humans, gives us the miracle of speech. It's our primary learning engine. Parrots, mocking birds and a few others can, but no primates. It is speech that has turned the world into our world, transforming nature into ... No comment. But there is no wordsmith to rival the Bard. Maybe Dante.
Tolstoy didn't like Shakespeare: irreligious, amoral, teaches that in morality, like politics, you can’t establish any principles because life is too complex. The Devil is the main protagonist in Shakespeare's great tragedies, which suits me fine,
World News with Eric Walberg