Ecological Headstand

Photograph taken in April 1964 by Jeremy J. Sh...

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A recommendation for Tom Walker’s blog. Here’s some stuff from it:


In a late note to editors on the topic of the flaneur, Walter Benjamin discussed the customer’s empathy for the commodity and the commodity’s empathy for the customer. Instead of “work adorning the citizen” (“Arbeit ist des Bürgers Zierde”), in industrial society the city dweller begins to feel ashamed of work and takes pride instead in possessions.As I understand this empathy with the commodity (characteristic of the flaneur, the sandwichman, the whore, the propagandist/agitator or “journalist-in-uniform”), it is somewhat akin to what we typically think of as a LACK of empathy, the extreme instance being the psychopath. Except Benjamin’s Einfühlung is not a mere void, an absence, but the presence of a surrogate: empathy for the commodity. Instead of no empathy, we have ersatz empathy.If that loose connection with the psychopath sounds plausible, it can be brought closer following Robert Lindner’s 1944 description of the psychopath as a “Rebel Without A Cause” and consequently Norman Mailer‘s definition of the “hipster” in “The White Negro.” (1957). Mailer’s hipster, though, is a philosophical psychopath — meaning he is simultaneously a psychopath (albeit a latent or passive one) and the negation of the psychopath. (See my previous post on the Economist as Hipster).

I want now to make a leap from the motif of the flaneur, the sandwichman, the whore and the agitator, the psychopath and the hipster, to the Oslo terrorist, Anders Breivik, and the London rioters and looters. [READ THE REST

Martin Jay on the Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment
A couple of weeks ago, Sandwichman wrote to Salmagundi suggesting that they make available on the Internet Martin Jay’s essay, “The Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe,”  or alternatively grant permission for me to publish the essay. I haven’t heard back from them. Because of the timeliness and importance of Jay’s article in exposing the right-wing echo chamber meme that inspired Anders Breivik’s murderous manifesto, I am posting an excerpt from that essay below: [READ THE REST]
Cultural Conservatives
 In the late 1940s, the American Jewish Committee sponsored a series of reports titled Studies in Prejudice, under the direction of Max Horkheimer. In one of the volumes, Prophets of Deceit: A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator, Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman analyzed a large collection of texts written by pro-fascist, anti-Semitic “personalities”, such as Gerald L.K. Smith and Father Charles Coughlin. Horkheimer described the book’s theme in his foreword to the five volume series: [READ THE REST]

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