💜 Americans

I love Americans because they are extremely kind to children. Today I had to take Klara to a restaurant between an outdoor activity and an indoor activity. We went to a fancyish place because nothing else is close enough and has food that we’ll both eat.

Klara was plastered in mud. She is wearing white today, so the mud was very visible. And what do you think? Nobody batted an eyelash. You are welcome everywhere with a child, even a mud-encrusted, disheveled little creature with dry, dirty leaves in her hair. What a great, highly humane society this is!

The Tyranny of Authenticity

There is much talk of authenticity today. Like all of neoliberalism’s advertisements, it appears in an emancipatory guise. To be authentic means to be free of pre-formed expressive and behavioural patterns dictated from the outside. It prescribes that one must equal only oneself and define oneself only through oneself – indeed, that one must be the author and creator of oneself. The imperative of authenticity develops a self-directed compulsion, a compulsion to constantly question oneself, eavesdrop on oneself, stalk and besiege oneself. It thus intensifies narcissistic self-reference. . .

The striving for authenticity, the striving to equal only oneself, leads to a constant comparison with others. The logic of comparison transforms otherness into sameness, and thus the authenticity of otherness consolidates social conformity: it only permits system-compatible differences, namely diversity. ‘Diversity’ as a neoliberal term is a resource that can be exploited. Hence it contrasts with alterity, which eludes any economic utilization.

Byung-Chul Han. The Expulsion of the Other: Society, Perception and Communication Today

How to Spot a Propagandist?

Propagandists have the capacity to make us feel like they are saying something we always wanted to hear. It’s as if they peered into our souls and found the words to express exactly what we felt deep inside.

But not all people who say things that resonate with us are propagandists. How do we distinguish between a manipulative liar who hits us in our Shadow to dupe us and a person who has insight that enriches us?

There are several steps we have to make to root out a propagandist, and here I want to talk about the first one. It’s a very obvious one but people forget to make it way too often.

The step I’m talking about is to ask, “is there evidence that this person is sincere? Or is he avoiding the need to live what he preaches?” For example, is this passionate anti-vaxxer fully vaxxed? Is this passionate vaxxer avoiding the vaccine? Did the public school advocate put her kids in private schools? Does the anti-racist activist have black friends? Does the “trad wife” run a successful business? Does the homeschooling advocate employ 3 nannies and barely ever see her kids?

This seems so obvious but people often fail to take this step. Russian propagandists rant about the evil West while their wives and children all have American citizenship and live in Miami. The propagandists earn the money to keep their wives and children in Palm Beach by getting a million duped losers to listen about stories about how terrible life in Palm Beach is.

Tucker Carlson’s children are all in Ivies and nepotized into the establishment, the money for which comes from hypnotizing the same million of duped losers (most of Tucker’s viewers are now in Russia) with stories about the terrible US establishment.

Insight or an exploitative lie? It’s up to us to find out.

This is only the first step, though. There’s a lot more we need to do as part of our intellectual hygiene.

The Scary Thing about America

The Ukrainian student loves everything about the US. Except for one thing that evokes something akin to sacred horror in her.

“It’s that thing they call coffee,” she says.

It’s true that pretty much nobody in the world understands the weird swill that passes for coffee in North America. I’ll be in Spain in a couple of weeks, and real coffee is what I anticipate the most.

It’s even worse in Canada. I remember staring at a cup of “coffee” in Canada and asking, “why, God, why? There must be a reason you permitted this abomination to come into existence but what can it be?”

New Blogging Project

I found a website in Ukraine where I can buy electronic versions of books in Ukrainian. I’m ridiculously happy.

Obviously, it’s easy to find pirated copies but I couldn’t live with myself if I cheated Ukrainian authors out of well-deserved income. A new, recently published novel costs between $2 and $3.50, so it’s a steal as it is.

I don’t want to persecute my regular readers with detailed discussions of Ukrainian books that haven’t been translated, so I want to open a different blog where I’ll post about my readings in Ukrainian. I looked around, and literally nobody is doing it on a serious, consistent basis. As a result, the book market in Ukraine is filled with expensive, translated – and normally extremely woke – garbage when books by national writers, which by their very nature are the opposite of woke, languish in undeserved obscurity.

Yes, my Ukrainian is currently in a pretty bad shape but I’m nothing if not obsessive. I’m memorizing vocabulary lists to recover the knowledge I had 20 years ago. To my great shame, my only published article of literary criticism in Ukrainian was originally in Russian. My father had to translate it for me. So I have a lot of work ahead of me to learn to write well.

Then I’ll come here and gossip about my experiences as a Ukrainian-language blogger.