Category Archives: The Zeitgeist

American Society’s Unnatural Attitude to Aging Naturally

Culture, Ethics, Family, Morality, Pop-Psychology, Psychiatry, Relatives, The Zeitgeist

In “No Country for Old Age,” The Hedgehog Review’s Joseph E. Davis writes, in essence, of the cruel biological reductionism and medicalization of old age, a natural stage of life that ought to be valued:

“When it comes to old age, illness, and death, little remains to us of common meaning or shared social rituals.”

Here are some of many profundities excerpted:

… In our society, to come directly to my point, old age is understood and framed in ways that lead inevitably to its devaluation. Its status is low and arguably is falling.
… old age [is seen as having] no value in itself. ‘Old’ signifies bodily decline, while “success” involves a ceaseless battle to defeat degeneration, and hope is always invested in the prospect of overcoming limits through self-reliance and technological interventions.

There is no space here for stillness or release, no sense of value or consolation in the evening of life. Even cultivating spirituality is framed instrumentally in terms of promoting ‘better physical and mental health in old age.’ An imperative to defeat aging and even death can only consign these realities to fear, shame, and avoidance.

…Representations of old age that add censure and shame to greater dependence and loss of one’s powers can only make matters worse.

… the sociologist Norbert Elias argues that, over time, these weakened bonds and other common features of the later years have been compounded by increased individualization and the isolation of the “ageing and dying from the community of the living.” In contemporary society, Elias argues, older people are “pushed more and more behind the scenes of social life,” a process that intensifies their devaluation, emotional seclusion, and loss of social significance. A physical and institutional sequestering and a pervasive cultural tendency to “conceal the irrevocable finitude of human existence” have made it harder for them and those around them to relate to, understand, and interact with one another. The aged and dying are less likely to receive the help and affection they need, and more prone to different forms of loneliness and painful feelings of irrelevance. “Never before,” Elias writes, “have people died as noiselessly and hygienically as today in [more developed] societies, and never in social conditions so much fostering solitude.”

… Health and longevity are the ends to which remedial action is directed and by which outcomes are evaluated. Even in discussions that include exhortations to build strong connections and communities, loneliness and isolation are treated as individual conditions, and references to community easily coexist with talk of genetic hardwiring, the role of the prefrontal cortex, and the ways in which neural mechanisms might generate feelings of loneliness.

… Typical advice is often some form of self-help: “take a class,” “get a dog,” “volunteer”; build your confidence with social skills training; seek out behavioral therapy. With therapy—highlighted for its positive “impact”—the aged lonely can be helped to see that their low self-worth, perceived isolation, or feelings of being unwanted are probably just cognitive misapprehensions that need to be “restructured.” Once this restructuring is accomplished, the aged can better match what they want in social life with what they have and get on with aging with more success. The status quo can now appear in a new, more uplifting light.

Current constructions of old age in individualistic terms of self-reliance, the fit body, productive accomplishments, or an imperative to deny or defeat aging technologically cannot but deepen our predicament and the need to render it invisible. This is what makes the cultural logic of these constructions irredeemable. They leave us in a cul-de-sac, hemmed in by a predatory commercial culture, a punishing ideology of health, fewer and weaker social ties, an ethic of active striving and mastery, and a mechanistic picture of ourselves. Moving beyond the devaluation of old age requires other orientations and other practices for which we must look elsewhere—to other societies, past or present, and to older traditions. …

… The social orientation of the evening of life need not be individualistic, but toward family and the localization and strengthening of social relations. Similarly, the view of the life cycle need not take its bearings from youth and middle age but from roles and identities appropriate to old age, with their own norms and rewards. These norms and rewards need not be defined in terms of active striving and productivity, but in terms of release, such as from social climbing, and a more contemplative attitude toward the world.

No Country for Old Age,” by Joseph E. Davis, The Hedgehog Review.

UPDATED (7/22/019): NEW COLUMN: The Donald’s Peculiar Problem: Ivanka

Donald Trump, Ethics, Family, Feminism, Intelligence, Kids, The Zeitgeist

NEW COLUMN is on the Unz Review, exclusively. It’s “The Donald’s Peculiar Problem: Ivanka.”

An excerpt:

It’s obvious who the odd one out is in this embarrassing clip of Ivanka at the G20 Summit.

Allow me to set the scene:

Two mature women are in the thick of a policy discussion. The two heavy hitters are British Prime Minister Theresa May and International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde.

Their buttoned-up, officious attire fits the occasion. It’s how Theresa May and Christine Lagarde, both born in 1956, have always dressed. The pearls, the tweed and gingham suits: These are as old-school and as dear as Margaret Thatcher’s made-in-Britain, “ten-a-penny” “humble handbag.”

Whether you like their politics or you don’t—and I don’t—Theresa May and Christine Lagarde are sharpshooting, politically hefty women.

May graduated from Oxford, which has a “jealously-guarded admissions process.” In other words, May was not admitted to that elite school for being a woman, and she did not make her way in the word of politics because she was the daughter of a celebrity.

While the French, foolishly, have begun to dabble in American-style affirmative action, France’s constitution disallows such discrimination. Its people won’t tolerate quotas and set-asides for dummies with a perceived genital or pigmental burden.

“Any kind of discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity [and, presumably, gender] in French higher education would be contrary to all French tradition.” The French speak as one on this typically American preoccupation.

Rest assured. Unlike American lightweights Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the sibilant Kirsten Gillibrand, and first daughter Ivanka Trump—Christine Lagarde, a former anti-trust and labor lawyer who now heads the IMF, has risen to her position because she’s able; she’s an impressive woman.

Again, I have no Fabian fondness for the economic planning and centralization that defines the European supra-state. But you don’t have to like the office (I dislike it) and the office-holder’s role in it (ditto) to appreciate her cerebral ability and drive: Lagarde holds 4 masters degrees. (Yet, these still failed to give her admission to France’s elite university!)

So, who elbows her way into the orbit of these high IQ, distinguished ladies? Why, Ivanka does! The grey-haired, unadorned women form part of circle deep in discussion, when a big-bosomed, lanky woman, in a floral frock butts in, silicone appendages first.

Ivanka has elbowed her way into the May-Lagarde tight circle of interlocutors. She is dressed like an overgrown Lolita. During the G20 Summit she could be seen constantly smoothing her rigid hair down vainly. Now, she is gesticulating affectatiously, as do all America’s tele-twits.  …

… READ THE REST. The Donald’s Peculiar Problem: Ivanka” is now exclusively on the Unz Review.

* Image courtesy of The Unz review.

UPDATE (7/22/019): Not again.

TV’s Intersectional, Girly Femboys

Feminism, Gender, John McCain, Media, Sex, The Zeitgeist

“Let me be clear. When I allude to the women of TV, I include those with the Y Chromosome.”—TV Tarts: Cringe Factor Ad Infinitum, Part 2.

Indeed, as ghastly as the TV tarts are (read about them here), TV’s “girly boys” give them a run for their money.

Think Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico or Chuck Todd of MSNBC’s MTP Daily, of course.

Arms and hands windmilling like any network woman, Chuck’s every sentence is prefaced with that most feminine of affectations, “I feel like.”

Mr. Todd’s pouty exclamations are complemented by wild gesticulating and a habit of swaying back-and-forward energetically in his little swivel chair.

Todd is easily able to take up an entire segment riffing about the audacity of not liking John McCain.

“So many of the Trump base think of McCain as a traitor,” Chuck pondered. “Can you believe it?” The point being that it is not the attack on a dead man that our “girly boy” condemns, but a difference of opinion about John McCain.

Today, little Chuck issued an apology to a self-styled identity group: Tourette’s syndrome sufferers.

That makes Chuck a PC perfect little femboy.

NEW COLUMN: Covington Kid: Hated For The Color Of His Skin

Christianity, Free Speech, Gender, Kids, Racism, Republicans, THE ELITES, The Establishment, The Zeitgeist

NEW COLUMN is “Covington Kid: Hated For The Color Of His Skin.” It’s on WND, the Unz Review and on Townhall.com.

WHEN A CATHOLIC BISHOP, Roger Joseph Foys, saw a Catholic boy with a beatific smile, standing athwart an agitated, Amerindian elder and smiling in that pacifist, sweetly Christian way—he and the Diocese of Covington simply had to condemned the kid. Who else? What choice did a man of the cloth have?

The same absurdity typified the reaction of the lickspittle liberal mayor of Covington, Joe Meyer. “Appalling,” he called Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann, the boy implicated in that “daring” standoff, on the National Mall, in D.C.

Had not philosophical giants like Cardi B (once a stripper, now a rapper, always illiterate) and Alyssa Milano (illiterate starlet) shown us the way?

Indeed. “The red MAGA hat is the new white hood” was Milano’s catechism. She went on to implicate “white boys’ lack of empathy [toward] the peoples of the world [in] the destruction of humanity.” (Only 12 years to go, predicts Comrade Ocasio-Cortez.)

The camera pans out to reveal Milano’s empathy oozing non-white men, also on the scene. These big and burly bullies are the Black Hebrew Israelites. Imagine what they’d have done to young boys like Nick Sandmann and his friends, if the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were not teaming with spectators and stakeholders.

But since the Memorial was swarming with demonstrators—some for the life of the unborn and others for the rights of the indigenous—the Black Hebrew Israelites stuck to hate-filled speech: “Child-molesting incest babies, future school-shooters, dirty, racist crackers,” hollered Alissa Milano’s home-team.

“The biggest terrorist on the face of the earth is the pale-faced man, woman and child.” The “Black Hebrew” hate group was speaking to the young, fragile-looking, pale patriarchy.

Hard on the heels of the “Black Hebrews” came actress Cher: “No one is safe in Trump’s America unless’ they’re white or wearing a MAGA hat.”

Another classy creature, one Cassandra Fairbanks—she poses as a comedic writer for “Saturday Night Live”—promised sexual favors to “anyone who manages to punch that MAGA kid in the face.”

CNN’s resident philosopher, Reza Aslan, wanted to know if anyone had “ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s [sic].” (His own, perhaps?)

Never original, South African expat Trevor Noah, a privileged celebrity who took “The Daily Show” from funny to facile, riffed on the same theme: “Everyone ‘wants to punch that kid.”

Some regret for joining a mob that went after minors was expressed by the producer of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “Let’s focus on shitty adults turning out shitty kids,” was his sage suggestion.

The boors of National Review checked Ana Navarro’s Twitter feed and hastened to match her gratuitous hatred for the Covington kids. The gaseous Navarro is a CNN Republican identity-politics activist, a hand-me-down from one of John McCain’s failed campaigns.

On the “Today” show, inquisitor Savannah Guthrie  peered down at Nick Sandmann, a mere slip of a boy, with studied contempt. In her grave, vocal-fry tones she inquired: “Do you feel like [cringe phrase] you owe anybody an apology? Do you see your own faults?”

Does this lily-white lady not know any young boys like Nick?

Poor child, so full of hope and faith. With his big blue eyes and rosy cheeks, Nick Sandmann imagined he was safe, so long as he did the right thing. But then Sandmann discovered he was hated for something he couldn’t right: the color of his skin. And while formative figures around him will hide this fact—for his sake, let us hope young Mr. Sandmann remains hip to it. 

… READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN is “Covington Kid: Hated For The Color Of His Skin.” It’s on WND, the Unz Review and Townhall.com.