“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?” — Morris Berman and the state of the American population
Enjoying the Morris Berman stuff, material, critiques, alternate point of view — how much, well it doesn’t matter, but how much do his ideas rest on a particular psychological theory? It seems like a rational choice — a choice to be dumb to opt out of responsibility — to rationally conclude to be irrational. Is that a legitimate choice?
The spirit of a country, of a people — talk about a large scale picture of Dorian Gray — what we keep hidden. Mystic River resonates with this as does “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” — the cause? Some influence over the American psyche by an outside force? The spirit of the land itself as Bill Burroughs stated?
Berman does (seem?) to shape the state of affairs as the result of a choice — the Joplin song he referenced — “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz? / My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends …” — the lottery player’s mindset writ large where we all feel that we may strike it rich by luck or even by regular old hard work, a country where all believe themselves to be special, exceptional — while only a few actually are.
What is this quirk? This blind spot? Tom Frank talks about, writes about it. What’s the Matter with Kansas is one case study, and as though to prove this quirk is not reliant on a single political side and that sides beliefs, Listen, Liberal is another. Case studies in confusion, unclear thoughts, susceptibility to propaganda, misattribution of causes — all the while demonstrating how participation is really taking place and how this unwitting (?) collusion is achieving real results: obvious beneficial and munificent results for a few groups and unwitting (? — again with a question mark) results for the large body of people. A question would be, is there now or has there been a country whose populace doesn’t behave this way? Are there other myths that people subscribe to, other psychological rules that other countries are based upon and develop with? And I think the answer is yes, though that affirmative response may be qualified if you consider the result of placing any people with a similar set of circumstances as the US populace finds itself within.
Thank you Morris Berman for helping me regain that delightfully uncanny — real life — experience so similar to They Live.