The Clare Spark Blog

June 13, 2019

Re-reading Herman Melville (part two)

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It was a fluke that I was allowed to write a dissertation on a major figure in literature in a department of history, but my being sympathetic to New Left radicalism and a Romantic, and having an advisor who had been a proletarian novelist, Professor Alexander Saxton, I was permitted to enter the ranks of literary criticism. Historians are expected to do archival research, but I was not prepared to find so many hidden motives in the men I investigated–all leading Melville biographers of one sort or another: they were Dr. Henry A. Murray, Jay Leyda, Raymond Weaver, and Charles Olson

The most controversial was gay Raymond Weaver, who was interested in Freud and early childhood relations (like myself) and who paid attention to HM’s conflicted relations with his mother and the character “Isabel” in Pierre l(1852); Jay Leyda was a Stalinist and later a Maoist who made his way through a forest of social democratic colleagues, who made hay out of his unflagging archival research and was even allowed entrance into the papers of Emily Dickinson; Harvard psychologist Dr. Murray, who seemed to have the ear of FDR, who left an unpublished Melville bio (including his notes), was more of a Jungian than a Freudian, who tried to cover up the existence of a real life half-sister; Charles Olson, poet, professor and a pioneer in the dissemination of a negative view of America, and who published an influential HM biography, Call Me Ishmael.

What did these figures have  in common? They were similarly purveyors of propaganda that distorted the facts that might be gleaned from a close reading of HM’s works. I plead guilty as I allowed my sympathy with the victims of slavery to distort my reading of Benito Cereno (1856). “Babo,” the leader was no exemplary rebel aboard a slave ship. Indeed, Agrarian and Christian Melville, lined up with the South, even saying in the voice  of Ishmael “Who ain’t a slave?….”

 HM was disdainful of all lower-class revolt. Rattled by the French Revolution, he identified with the aristocracy of Britain. And yet, he was proud of his heroic ancestors in the War of Independence. His democratic side was obvious to me, long ago, and I was taken in by his frequent protests regarding the treatment of the lower orders. But on the end, “Ishmael” sided with legitimate authority, like Edmund Burke.

Finally,  the Melville revivers preferred Queequeg-loving Ishmael over Captain Ahab; I gathered that the Ahab-Hitler  was too powerful in the 1930s-1940s for them to note  HM’s ambiguity and ambivalence throughout. Projecting a bisexual was less threatening to liberals intent upon co-opting hyper-individualist HM or his alter ego Captain Ahab. At the time of their publications in the 1930s-40s (Olson’s book was published later), social democrats accused the free market as producing “fascism.”

  

August 6, 2016

Krauthammer diagnoses Trump, long distance

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New Theater Hitler as narcissist, 1936

New Theater Hitler as narcissist, 1936

Read these short entries first. http://www.mediaite.com/online/krauthammer-diagnoses-trump-beyond-narcissism-has-infantile-hunger-for-approval/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-and-the-fitness-threshold/2016/08/04/b06bae34-5a69-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html

I used to revere Charles Krauhammer as Fox’s resident genius, until I saw the homage documentary designed (?) to debut CK’s collected essays (Things That Matter); that “documentary” produced a blog that focused on CK’s search for unity https://clarespark.com/2013/10/26/krauthammer-fox-news-channel-and-the-search-for-unity/. This search for coherence in a polarized polity would suggest that he is an organic conservative, despite his claims to be a moderate, which would align him with other “moderates” on Fox News Channel. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Krauthammer), In other words, CK is a mystic, not a scientific materialist, as his medical training would suggest.

I learned from the Wiki entry that CK had indeed never been in independent clinical practice as a psychiatrist (he is board-certified), but had gone on from being chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (three whole years as a resident!), directly into politics, working for the Carter administration in “psychiatric planning.” (Wiki also states that CK contributed to DSM III, though they are not detailed.)

In other words, CK had little experience in clinical practice, yet he is a respected diagnostician of persons he seems not to have ever closely examined. (I have written extensively about another Harvard graduate, a Jungian: Dr. Henry A. Murray, who, like CK, made long-distances inferences about major figures; for instance, Murray testified at the trial of Whittaker Chambers, opining that Chambers had a “psychopathic personality” (based on reading! and linking him to CK’s highly respected opinions. (On Murray’s methods see https://clarespark.com/2012/03/26/henry-a-murray-and-the-tat/.)

Just as CK has labeled Barack Obama a “narcissist,” Dr. Krauthammer judges Donald J. Trump to be unstable, and more than a bit mad. Oddly, Adolf Hitler was judged to be a nutty criminal/psychopath by Dr. Henry A. Murray and assorted Stalinists, though none of these had any professional (psychiatric) relationship with the object of their scorn. Dr. Murray went so far as to infer that Hitler must have had Jewish blood, setting the stage for later Harvard social psychologists (https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/).

Dr. Krauthammer famously switched political allegiances mid-career. But his haughty opinions on the Republican nominee’s mental states, bear comparison with those of other “moderate men” seeking to be “fair and balanced.”

December 29, 2014

The Leader Principle

FDRIn the late 1930s-early 1940s, Harvard psychologists tried to nullify the Führer-Prinzip (detestable) with an FDR version whereby Franklin Roosevelt would embody the Eros they attributed to Democracy, for Hitler was obviously a hater, while the FDR they were promoting was a lover of humanity, as was obvious (to them) by New Deal legislation and its concern for the “common man.” (Or as Barack Obama would say, the middle class.)

For instance, Gordon Allport and Henry A. Murray wrote worksheets for civilian morale that advised “Linking of Present Leader to the Idealized Leaders of the Past”: ”The more the present leader is seen as continuing in the footsteps of the great idealized leaders of the past, the better the morale. (Picture of Roosevelt between Washington and Lincoln would encourage this identification.) The more the present leader is seen as falling short of the stature of the great idealized leaders of the past, the worse the identification. By effective leadership the group’s latent communality may emerge through identification with the leader. If this smacks of the Führer-Prinzip, we would insist that identification is a process common to all societies, and that what distinguishes the democratic leadership from the Nazi leadership is not the process of identification but the content of what is identified with. It is the function of the democratic leader to inspire confidence in the democratic way of life, in its value for the individual or the society and not mere identification with his person, or the mythical Volk.”

[Clare:] Virtually the entire postwar program of “liberal” reform was foreshadowed in these pages. As formulated in the mid-nineteenth century, abolitionist and working-class demands for universal education, equal rights, and enforcement of the Constitution would be redirected into the quotas of affirmative action or multiculturalism. In worksheet #17, “Long Term Aspects of Democratic Morale Building,” a program of integration and deferential politeness would rearrange the American people’s community: “…far from ignoring or suppressing diversities of intelligence, the objective of democratic morale-building should be their conscious integration into an improving collective opinion. The techniques of such integration exist. They are inherent in the democratic tradition of tolerance and the democratic custom of free discussion. They exist, however, in outline rather than in any ultimate or perhaps even very high state of development. [sic!CS]

followleader

[Quoting Gordon Allport:]…Our pressure groups [the Jews complaining about Nazis?] are loud, their protests vehement and our method of electioneering bitter and sometimes vicious. In the process of becoming self-reliant Americans have lost respect, docility, and trust in relation to their leaders. Our habit of unbridled criticism, though defended as a basic right, brings only a scant sense of security to ourselves in an emergency, and actively benefits the enemies of the nation.”

[Clare:] Such are the imprecations of integral nationalism, brought to you by Harvard social psychologists who viewed themselves as fighting fascism while imitating its chief tenets. But we are not now, nor have we ever been, fascists, right?

Happy New Year! (For the complete blog see https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/.)

March 20, 2014

Role models, Talcott Parsons, and Structural Functionalism

Tinguely construction

Tinguely construction

The persistent theme of this website is to decode the propaganda of all political factions, tracing their histories back to the invention of the printing press, when ordinary people first became at least partly independent of “traditional” hierarchies. So began the modern world in my lexicon, where anything can happen in relations with “authority” and new strategies for “order” were invented by threatened elites.

Reading comprehension (my strongest suit) became my preoccupation, for language, music, and visual symbols are powerful forces that may either aid emancipation from illegitimate authority, or may fasten “ordinary people” to bad “role models” as they are called today.

The phrase “role model” is constantly trotted out as THE solution to upward mobility for “victims” of capitalism and the modern world in general. The “leaders” we encounter are held to mold our characters and desires: parents, teachers, entertainers, artists, the media, public intellectuals. These figures may be forces for positive growth as unique individuals, capable of seeing through confidence men, or, as now-and-then rebels/protesters, they may relieve the negative aspects of “tradition,” allowing us to blow off steam—a process that leaves oppressive elites undamaged.

Or these designated role models may be so ambiguous as to be indecipherable, even as they appeal to our needs for safety and sense of belonging to what is called either “family” or “community.” It is my view that multiculturalism is one pervasive elite strategy that appears to “include” everyone in the “international community”, but in practice, divides groups from one another. Enter cultural anthropology and its spin-off: “interdisciplinary cultural studies” that avoid “economic determinism” like the plague.

For economic factors are too central to understanding the material world we live in, and too close to science, especially to the empiricism that strengthens “ordinary people.” They also buttress the claims of classical liberals (the Founders and framers of the US Constitution); try to read the Federalist papers without understanding the economic disaster of the Articles of Confederation, or without understanding the liberating conception of equality under the law—and the laws are at bottom about economic factors and their interpretation.

One reason I mention the moderate men so frequently is not out of antagonism toward moderation as such, but because “moderate conservatives” (the progressives) changed their spots with particular effectiveness at the end of the Red Decade (the 1930s), in order to lure “ordinary people” away from either communism or “laissez-faire capitalism” as it was derisively called by its elite antagonists. (FDR, a conservative reformer, called his opponents “economic royalists,” all the while courting allies such as Harvard social psychologist Dr. Henry A. Murray, whose notes on Melville’s White-Jacket insisted that ordinary people were not “trained to rule.”)

Central to that project of counter-Enlightenment were the fields of social psychology, social relations, and sociology. No longer would professionals in these fields follow the procedures of science (either “pure” or “applied”), following material evidence to its logical conclusions, but now, echoing British Tories and Whigs, their aims were “social cohesion” and “political stability”—sometimes called the Third Way.  If this meant abandoning the authority of (unreliably changeable) science, so be it. After all, materialist procedures buttressed the arguments of the Enlightenment (see https://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-enlightenment-corporatist-liberalism-and-the-revision-of-american-history/.) Here are some of Parsons’s other achievements: 1. The declaration that free speech should be tolerated solely in a psychiatrist’s office; 2. An essay in a volume on antisemitism that described the Jewish God as domineering and genocidal; and 3. The blaming of native Nazism on “romantic puritans”. These claims were not hidden away in private communications or notes, but published in 1942, where I found them, with my eyebrows raised to my hairline.

Indeed, the great achievement of progressive sociology (as exemplified by Parsons and other authoritarian “liberals”) was to place the academic reader in a double bind: society was ideally a self-contained smoothly functioning machine, similar to that of the plant world. But social bonds were mystical, not materialist as the puritan romantics would have it.

Enter the role of language: “communities” substituted for identity of material interests, let alone the rule of law.  “Role models” became a useful form of identity formation, stopping moves toward individual judgment, for role models originated within “the system”—hyper-“individualists” must be outside agitators, troublemakers too reliant on their sense impressions and readings of key texts.

Indeed, the Parsons cohort had elaborate plans to enhance “national morale” that effectively identified gritty individuals before they ascended to positions of power. (See https://clarespark.com/2010/06/19/committee-for-economic-development-and-its-sociologists/ followed by https://clarespark.com/2011/01/02/the-watchbird-state/. These are excerpts from my book on the Melville Revival and are unknown or off limits to most researchers.)

Is it any wonder that artists have resisted the process by which they were invited to enter the machine world of the structural functionalists and their allies in the progressive movement, even as they, like Jean Tinguely, proclaimed the superior “social” qualities of the “self-sufficient” world of the artist? http://www.moma.org/pdfs/docs/press_archives/4149/releases/MOMA_1968_July-December_0081.pdf?2010. Would they have been exhibited under a different banner?

Tinguely2

March 26, 2012

Henry A. Murray and the Thematic Apperception Test

Christiana Morgan sculpted

Today, the History of Madness website publicized a Harvard exhibition celebrating Dr. Henry A. Murray’s invention of the Thematic Apperception Test. Murray is one of major characters in the so-called Melville Revival, and I found abundant material at Harvard demonstrating his low-profile but leading role in left-liberal propaganda. Below is the citation for his original article, and some lines on how the test was used by progressive psychologists and sociologists. For more, see the blog links below. You will not find the material I dug up over many years elsewhere in academic land. The only biography of Murray, by Forrest G. Robinson, is inaccurate and obsessed with Murray’s sexual habits, particularly those that involved his mistress Christiana Morgan. Claire Douglas wrote an even more scandalous one that Murray’s widow Nina Fish Murray loathed.

For the TAT citation, see Dr. Henry A. Murray and Christiana Morgan, “A Method For Investigating Fantasies: The Thematic Apperception Test,” Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 34, 1935. In the TAT, the subject is shown a drawing which he then interprets in written form. The Progressive Murray of course believed he was rescuing the patient from such neuroses as the Icarus complex (social radicalism, itself irrationally motivated). Murray’s OSS test for weeding out unstable spies was recommended by Harold Lasswell after WW2 as a test for potentially disloyal leaders, employers, and employees.  Lasswell went so far as to recommend a Loyalty Board. The TAT was recommended as a way of analyzing the content of mass media messages. Somehow, in the rage against HUAC and “McCarthyism” the adjurations of the Committee For Economic Development, have been lost to liberals, leftists, neocons, and conservatives alike.

https://clarespark.com/2011/06/13/weinergate-papa-freud-and-the-imperfect-father/

https://clarespark.com/2010/05/10/jungians-rising/ (includes three blogs on Murray and sadomasochism)

https://clarespark.com/2011/06/12/call-me-isabel-a-reflection-on-lying/

https://clarespark.com/2009/12/13/klara-hitlers-son-and-jewish-blood/

https://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sykewar-american-style/.

https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/

https://clarespark.com/2010/06/19/committee-for-economic-development-and-its-sociologists/

https://clarespark.com/2009/09/25/on-mobs-teaching-and-jungians/ (Alston Chase blames Murray for creating the monster Unabomber)

Murray biography cover art

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