Category Archives: Family

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.

NEW COLUMN Updated (1/21): Dissident Deplorables Refuse To Be Dittoheads

Critique, Donald Trump, Elections, English, Family, Journalism, Media, Political Correctness

NEW COLUMN is “Dissident Deplorables Refuse To Be Dittoheads.”

In its attenuated form, the column appeared on Townhall.com. If you prefer lukewarm, milquetoast, bland fare (as much as this writer can do those), adapted for conservative tastes, then stick with this version: “Dissident Deplorables Deserve Decent Coverage.”

Otherwise, read the piece in full on The Unz Review.  Or, look-away, FAST (as did others. Yes, the piece was spiked elsewhere).  The more I read Mencken, the more I know this: If he were alive today, Unz Review woudl be the only place that would dare publish him.

Excerpt:

The happening featured beefcake Donald Trump Jr. and bimbo Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The couple was on stage at UCLA to promote the president’s son’s “book,” when they were jeered by dissident Deplorables for shutting down the Question-and-Answer segment.

“Book” here is in quotations to denote “so-called,” because the staple, ghost-written political pablum, penned by ambitious political flotsam, relates to literacy as H. L. Mencken relates to conformity—not at all.

Predictably, Guilfoyle opted out of the conversational give-and-take demanded by her man’s hecklers, and went straight for the groin:

“I bet you engage in online dating, because you’re impressing no one here to get a date in person.”

Why “predictably”? Well, a supple mind may not be one of Guilfoyle’s assets.

Kimberley’s cerebral alacrity was seldom showcased when seated in Fox News’ legs chair. During one of her last televised appearances on “The Five,” a Fox News daytime show, Guilfoyle protested that, “the U.S. has already reduced its [toxic] ‘admissions’ enough.”

I give you Guilfoyle, verbatim, in her own words: “So, we can keep doing what we’re doing. We can keep reducing our admissions. …”

To Make English Great Again, you reduce emissions, not “admissions.”

For a while, it even seemed that Trump, looking for curve appeal in a press secretary, was going for Guilfoyle. She certainly thought so and said as much, implying, at the time, that she herself is “a great communicator … with deep knowledge.”

And no; I do not digress. This all goes to the Guilfoyle’s knee-jerk, flirty, aim-for-the-groin reaction to her hombre’s hecklers.

Tellingly, the taunting of Donald Jr. by dissident Deplorables was covered very differently by the American Daily Beast and the British Guardian.

Descriptions of political positions and personalities were prefaced by the Daily Beast with “edifying” editorializing. The hecklers the Beast described as “fringe-right.” Their alleged instigator and inspiration was said to be “a white nationalist.” Perfectly legitimate demands from this disgruntled audience for a “Q&A” and for “America First,” the Daily Beast deemed tantamount to a right-wing insurrection or civil war.

Discrediting dissent is all in a day’s work for the American press.

What do you know? The hecklers at Trump Jr.’s book-flogging were also known, to the Daily Beast at least, as “Holocaust deniers.” As far as this reader can tell, the group taunting the empty suits on stage for refusing to answer questions had said not a word about the Holocaust. Nor had the disrupters been interviewed by the Daily Beast about their views on the Holocaust.

More to the point: Why is participation in our democracy predicated on one’s views on the Holocaust? What the hell does an individual’s opinion about that topic have to do with his right to solicit answers from members of Donald Trump’s politically active dynasty? I say this as a Jew whose family tree was truncated by the industrial-scale mass murder of millions of Jews that was the Holocaust. …

… READS THE REST.  NEW COLUMN is “Dissident Deplorables Refuse To Be Dittoheads.” Or, “Dissident Deplorables Deserve Decent Coverage,” if you can’t take the heat. 

UPDATE (11/21): 

On WND: “Is political participation predicated on views about the Holocaust?” “Discrediting dissent is all in a day’s work for the American press,” says this Jew, whose family tree was truncated by the industrial-scale mass murder that was the Holocaust. MORE …

The Pushy Kushners Go To Camp David

Celebrity, Donald Trump, Ethics, Family

The Kushners have ridden President Trump’s coattails into the White House.

Nobody voted for them; nobody worthwhile wants to see their fingerprints on policy, or their presence anywhere near the People’s House.

But the two, driven by the ambitious First Lady In-Waiting (Ivanka Trump is purported to have political “ambitions”), are intent on cementing their Camelot-like status as political movers-and-shakers.

This most ambitious and empty-headed of couples, both presidential advisers (yes, anything goes in America), is now insisting on celebrating a wedding anniversary at Camp David.

I have no attachment to the place. Nevertheless, I do not wish to see the two interlopers, Ivanka and Jared, frolic about as though they have anything more than a shameful place in presidential history.

Ivanka Makes Trump Back Away From ‘Send Her Back’ Chant

Donald Trump, Elections, Family, IMMIGRATION, Nationalism

Not Ivanka, again.

“Ivanka Trump and other senior advisers told Trump to distance himself [from the ‘Send Her Back!’ chants].

Heeding Ivanka, Trump then went on to say things that would lead one to believe that what Deplorables, at the recent rally in Greenville, NC, really wanted was not to “Send Her Back!” but more “merit-based immigration now!”

“Those chants have no place in our party or our country,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. [Pressed by daughter Ivanka and Republicans, Trump rejects ‘send her back’ chants, by Julie Hirschfield Davis, Maggie Haberman, and Michael Crowley, The New York Times, July 19, 2019]. …

But the base wants the old Trump back. They want the wall, illegals deported, immigration reduced, American jobs protected, and no more stupid wars. Trump clearly understands this. He rarely touts Conservative Inc. ideas at his rallies, preferring tirades about immigration and Democrats. The “go back home” tweets shows signs of Trump wanting to return to his old self. So did his proposed Executive Order to impose the citizenship question on the census. However, he fails to stick with his nationalist bravado. He listens to Javanka and looks weak in the fallout.


MORE: “Send Her Back” Chant Expresses America’s Resistance to Dispossession—Trump Right to Back Away from Javanka.”

Sticking your head in the sand about  the nepotistic license Trump has given his daughter and son-in-law makes you an ostrich, not a patriot.