[lbo-talk] hucksterism, the quick score, etc.

JOANNA A. 123hop at comcast.net
Thu Jul 17 09:28:30 PDT 2014

I don't know about myths. I think the bearded one was right: either we become conscious historical subjects or we are fucked.


----- Original Message ----- I don't mean to dismiss the need for a vision, just thinking about how that particular vision has degraded. Am I right that among OWS's problems was that it didn't have a viable myth to enact? When people talk about something not having "traction," might they be talking (perhaps unconsciously) about the lack of a myth? I have in mind a principle that gives momentum to collective activity, one that can carry it past missteps and tactical errors.

Maybe there are elements within the individual v. the system myth that can be given more emphasis so that it promotes collective action (the town rallies around George Bailey in his hour of need; etc.).

On Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM, JOANNA A. <123hop at comcast.net> wrote:

> There's no other vision than that of the individual against the system.
> J
> ----- Original Message -----
> Nice post. Aren't the luck trope and the loophole trope related on some
> level? The post-Reformation/capitalist individual has both the "pluck and
> luck" (to quote an Alger title), i.e., the luck to find an "opportunity"
> (such as a loophole) and the pluck exploit it.
> This is mythic thinking, in which the system exists only to be overcome or
> evaded by the hero. And that it is mythic thinking I think goes a long way
> to explaining its grip.
> But the traditional hero was an atypical person, so if now everyone is to
> be his/her own hero, the heroic feats have to undergo some devolution:
> Odysseus' trickster-style evasion of the cyclops becomes finding a
> loophole.
> On Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 8:09 AM, Andy <andy274 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/blog/2014/07/15/king-of-pain/
> >
> >
> > As Jackson Lears and many other scholars and observers have noted, many
> > Americans throughout the cultural history of the United States have
> > accepted that the circumstances of life are inevitably determined by
> luck,
> > that economic life is a matter of good or ill fortune. Which some have
> > suggested explains the current popular aversion to increased taxation on
> > the rich: even the poor think they have a chance of being rich someday,
> and
> > want to keep all the imaginary money they might get.
> >
> > I think there’s a less-told but equally important trope in the American
> > imaginary: the loophole. The finding of the trick, the turning of the
> fine
> > print back on the lawyer who wrote the contract. The victimless crime of
> > cheating the government or the big company out of something it mindlessly
> > and wastefully demanded of the little man. The free money, the thing that
> > your friend fixed up for you. Topsy-turvy, the quick score that makes the
> > smart and the sly rich without distress to anything. The
> > beads-for-Manhattan.
> >
> > It’s that last I’m thinking about when I think about King Jeremiah Heaton
> > <
> >
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-man-plants-flag-claims-african-country-calling-it-kingdom-of-north-sudan/2014/07/12/abfbcef2-09fc-11e4-8a6a-19355c7e870a_story.html
> > >,
> > who became Internet-famous for a few days when he travelled to southern
> > Egypt to plant a homemade flag on a small area of land that he believed
> was
> > unclaimed by any existing sovereign state and therefore his for the
> taking.
> > All for the sake of his 7-year old daughter, who wanted to be a princess.
> >
> > There’s a lot to say about the story, most of it properly accompanied by
> > much rolling of the eyes. But I do think Heaton is a canary in the coal
> > mine of sorts, a window into a psychic cauldron seething inside the
> > consciousness of a fading empire. Heaton himself invoked history in the
> > coverage: what he did, others had done, he acknowledged, but they did it
> > out of greed or hatred. He did it for love, he says, love of his
> daughter.
> > But if ever first time tragedy, second time farce applied, this is it.
> >
> > [...]
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Andy
> > "It's a testament to ketchup that there can be no confusion."
> > ___________________________________
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