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20 February 2012


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Very interesting article. One problem, which is becoming evident daily, is that the US public can't even remember, or interested in what happened 10 years ago.

Thus, there is an increasing campaign to start another wasteful war by the same usual suspects. But are Mitt Romney or Donald Trump an improvement over those old guys? Maybe YouTube will keep them in check?

Or maybe not?

William R. Cumming

If the wealth of a country is its people are we in the USA investing enough in our people?


Its also good to remind ourselves that these self same robber barons were the ones to push us into the Spanish American war and other bloody misadventures.


The answer to that is no. Higher education is OK, but increasingly unaffordable. Primary education has a lot of problems. Both will have a negative impact on future economic development. Especially since so many other countries are educating their people so much more and better.


I love it when Richard Sale writes this way!

Sidney O. Smith III

Mr. Sale
Extraordinary writing, per usual. Full of great insights.

But aren't you being a little harsh on your grandmomma? I would think you would treat your grandmomma a bit more kindly, lo' all these years later, especially when the subject of your essay is "a home of family values" or lack thereof.

But alas, you write:

"When I was at Columbia College, one day I spoke of Freud to my grandmother who flew into a fit of atrocious rage. She went at me again and again, pulling at my cuff like an enraged puppy, saying, “Freud says everything is sex, sex, sex.” She, of course, had never put herself to the trouble of reading him."
-------end of troubling quote----

In defense of your grandmomma, if I may. First, I am not sure she was that far off the mark, as Freud defined the libido as the sex drive. Jung took great issue with that definition and defined the libido as life's energy or some such, one of the manifestations of which is the sex drive. It resulted in Jung's book, Symbols of Transformation, which took Feud to task.

Second -- and to cut to the chase -- Freud, while certainly a benefactor of mankind, took massive amounts of cocaine and it had to influence his thoughts. Basically, when I read Freud, I got the feeling he was saying "I am so f---kin high, I'll break all taboos and not feel an ounce of guilt. Nothing at all". Cocaine induces egomania.

Third, I have a recollection of reading one of your prior essays in which you gave a spirited and brilliant defense of your Catholicism. When I read that essay, I said to myself, "Mr. Sale is a sure enough Catholic, probably attends those Masses at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with all the bells and whistles. Good for him."

Well...if I am right about your Catholicism, then, imo...the psychological underpinnings of Catholicism and Freud, ultimately, are mutually exclusive. Catholicism is all about becoming one with the spiritual father, the pathway of which is laid out in the Gospel of John. To borrow from Freud, the "royal road to the unconscious" (Freud's words) is through the adoptive experience (which is not Freud's way,to stay the least). By doing so, one starts to see the proper interplay between the unconscious and conscious. It's a long road because you have to leave the family dynamic, at both the conscious and unconscious levels. Sometimes takes a heroic sacrifice.

Freud, at least as interpreted by the masses, seems to keep people trapped in the family dynamic. So you see people in their 60's and beyond still stewing about family "issues".

Have you considered going to a cathedral or some such and lighting a candle in memory of your grandmomma and letting go of it all, in the name of family values? I mean, in all likelihood, when you were five or so, I imagine you were pulling at her cuffs a bunch too. And, honestly, as a general rule, most grandmothers are nothing but pure love, and their eccentricities, if any, should bring a fond laugh.

All that said, I liked your essay very much. (btw, didn't Thomas Merton attend Columbia?)

William R. Cumming

Sidney and Sale a very dynamic duo! Thanks to both. I spent two years with no libido due to hormone therapy for prostate cancer a decade ago. My what an increase in my spare time that treatment provided. And whatever my libido did return.

Sidney O. Smith III

Mr. Sale's work is very important and significant. And, of course, his writing style is magnificent. I am glad he posts here and hope he continues to do so. My criticism of his latest essay was really only a quibble that, at it turned out, took a few paragraphs to explain. But I am only discussing one small aspect of his overall theme, which I found very worthwhile to ponder.

Mr. Sale
Upon further reflection, perhaps your grandmomma would have been more accurate if she had said Freud, ultimately, was all about "infantilism, infantilism, infantilism", instead of what she said.

Nonetheless, for a woman who hadn't read Freud, she was amazingly intuitive. Off the charts, actually. After all, history seems to have vindicated her view.

Perhaps your grandmother was just concerned that you and your generation (Columbia-Woodstock generation, presumably) would get carried away with Freud. She innately saw the danger. Freud (again, at least how the masses interpret him) legitimated selfishness and anti-heroism. I mean, what's heroic, about staying mired in the family dynamic one's entire life?

Additionally, your grandmomma, like Jung, intuitively must have seen the danger of Freud's attempt to kill the Godhead via taboo breaking and snorting truckloads of cocaine to get there.

I was surprised at your comment, in part, because I so much admire your earlier essay in which you precisely delineated how the Israelis and Iranians are projecting their worst traits onto each other. That approach is straight from Jung's book, Man and his Symbols.

In my opinion, that earlier essay deserves the highest praise possible. You seemed to have inherited your grandmother's intuitive skill set.

So back to your grandmomma. Looking back on it, she may have spoken the words of a prophet.

Of course, one could say the same about Flannery O'Connor, and I know how you feel about her too (that was a joke). So I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. But, as always, I look forward to reading more of your essays as I learn much and realize I have much to learn.

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