The Clare Spark Blog

February 17, 2013

[Aristo-democrats?] want pre-school for four-year-olds?

Evelyn Waugh aristocratsThis is more of an autobiographical blog than a scholarly one. There is no more agreement over how to raise children than there is over what constitutes mental illness or mental health, or how to fix our public schools. (For related blogs, see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/16/gun-control-laws-quick-fixes-undoing/, and https://clarespark.com/2011/08/31/review-steven-brills-class-warfare/.)

Nevertheless, as one of his magic bullets, POTUS proposed in his State of the Union speech that “pre-school” for all middle class and poor kids would go far in lifting them out of poverty and on to employability in the [brave new world] created by social media and other math-science-heavy fields.  Charles Krauthammer had a good time making fun of this proposal, suggesting that four year olds would no longer be allowed to dawdle and play without being pushed in a direction that did not even pay off with results past the third grade, as some studies of Head Start have shown.

This blog attempts to inject a bit of realism into the endless debate over child-rearing, with most of the Right lamenting the lack of father-headed households, and the decline of religion; presumably both repairs, bypassing overindulgent (yet pistol-packin’) mammas, would inject the sort of paternal superego that reduces crime and postpones gratification in favor of distant goals: family harmony, success in life, and fitness for family re-unification in Heaven. (Take three minutes to hear http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b39ALX4neIk.)

Almost no one utters the curse word “Puritan” any longer, for they, in all their variety, have been discredited as axe-wielding killjoys (Carrie Nation!), or worse:  Harvard’s Talcott Parsons identified “romantic puritans” in America as resembling Hitler in his world-destroying rage, as if the temperance “crusade” and its related Protestant reform movements had been disastrously feminized. (There is an entire academic bibliography on whether or not Victorian women were good or bad for today’s feminists.)

Carry Nation

Carry Nation

I do not pretend to be any kind of expert on child-development, and in my own case, relied upon maternal instinct and my own favorite activities, shared with my three children.  After I found a housekeeper, I amused myself and them by reading good children’s literature aloud (A.A. Milne, E. B. White, Roald Dahl), playing both classical music and folk songs on the piano or guitar, and with frequent trips to the local hardware store that sold art supplies. And then there were museums and concerts, with a few family trips to exotic locales such as Yosemite and New Mexico.

Had I not been a grandchild of immigrants, but rather a European aristocrat (or the child of a “political” family), I would have discussed world affairs at the dinner table as my children grew older (and returned from elite “public” schools), for it would have been assumed that my children would someday be running the world  as men of affairs, probably with their wives as powers behind the thrones and competent, stylish hostesses for an elite,  with both parents as experts in hiring multi-lingual governesses and/or tutors,  and in selecting clothing, interior décor, and gardens as proof of class position and legitimacy.

What the President is proposing is typical for an inexperienced elite, who wave their magic wands to lift up the poor through government-imagined programs, without sufficient consideration of the dire material conditions in which inner-city ghetto kids live, and the likely confusion of their single mothers, whose education would  have been inadequate to begin with, owing to outdated and/or partisan curricula (assuming that they were not high school dropouts owing to teen-age pregnancy).

My most popular blogs have been given to speculating on Barack Obama’s “narcissistic” personality and ambiguous politics. This I can say with rare certainty. No leftist would propose such a pathetic Band-Aid for the poor and badly educated as an enlargement (?) of Head Start (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_Start_Program.). This hit and miss proposal should be pinned on welfare statists, formerly known as “aristo-democrats” by the more sophisticated observers.

FDR, Lucy Mercer, Eleanor R.

FDR, Lucy Mercer, Eleanor R.

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January 16, 2013

Gun control laws, quick fixes, undoing

abused dogToday January 16, 2013, POTUS delivered an impassioned speech on behalf of greater gun control laws. It was a highly theatrical event, with four young children of differing colors and genders on the stage, children who had written to him of their distress and looking to POTUS as the fixer who would keep them safe from early death. Also in the audience were the parents of one of the victims of Adam Lanza’s Sandy Hook massacre. They were all part of Obama’s emotional appeal to Congress to fund research on the causes of gun violence, and the effects of violent video games.  The entire package would come to 500 million dollars.

But something strange and perhaps revealing happened toward the beginning of the speech. POTUS called upon three of the four children to say something about the guns issue after he read their letters to him, but he skipped “Grant,” the one black child.* I was literally floored, for I read the gaffe as an example of “undoing”—an unconscious process whereby we pretend that a terrible event did not in fact happen. For instance, when my infant brother died from SIDS when I was eight years old, my first response to this traumatic event was to suppress a laugh, then I had numerous dreams in which he was still alive.

If Obama was indeed repressing the follow-up statement of the black child on stage with him, then it suggests to me that his childhood of neglect, abandonment, and perhaps indoctrination, remains too painful to be acknowledged, and that much of his grandiosity is compensation for unspoken misery (as opposed to the “narcissism” commonly attributed to him by pundits).

Obamaprops

A person of his education and stated high idealism should be more aware of his own emotional processing, but alas, our culture suppresses such knowledge as nonsensical Freudianism, yet without the wisdom of the Freudians and their exploration of mental illnesses and neuroses, we are at the mercy of cocksure pundits who imagine that “families” are the solution to all emotional pain and failure. (For elaboration of this point regarding the homeless schizophrenics, some of whom become murderers, see http://jamesvpagano.com/science-schmience/.)

I beg to differ. Dysfunctional families, families who will not look at their relationships (that may be abusive, authoritarian, negligent, sentimental, bohemian, or otherwise destructive to the healthy emotional and intellectual development of children) are not having a gun problem. They have abdicated the role of mature parenting, and in a related pathology, have never thought about their obligations as citizens of a representative republic, namely their obligations to be educated about the issues that determine their votes, an education that could alienate them from their “perfectly happy” families of origin. (For more on this, see https://clarespark.com/2011/11/12/the-woman-question-in-saul-bellows-herzog/.)

During the past Christmas season, numerous organizations devoted to the rescue of abused dogs, cats, and even horses, ran ads pleading with the viewers to support the ASPCA, the Humane Society, etc.  with a monthly stipend. The photographs were of pathetic dogs and cats, hoping to be rehabilitated. But I saw human children in those sad doggie and kitty faces, uttering the same cry for attention.

How many of us care about our own children enough to examine our own roles and performance as  parents, no matter how painful that self-scrutinizing process may be? (For more on this subject of families and their often conflicted internal relationships, see https://clarespark.com/2013/01/17/bondage-and-the-family/.)

*I do not know for a fact that POTUS skipped the black child. Perhaps the latter did not want to say anything to add to his letter. But it is curious that others have not noticed this incident.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

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