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“You can always tell a monster: He wears scarves indoors.”

Only four comments appear on Dwight Garner’s NYT review of a biography of the realist painter Lucian Freud, and one of them complains about this arresting sentence. As in: What? I wear scarves indoors, and I’m not a monster.

Indeed, what does Garner mean?

UD, rereading Garner’s wonderful review, pondered ‘pon this. The book cover photo of Freud shows him wearing a scarf indoors.

Here’s the paragraph in which the sentence appears:

Freud had a mean word for everyone. He put the knife in white and it came out red. A typical comment in this volume, about an aunt, is: “She was very nasty really, in a small sort of way. Her expertise was opening letters. Other people’s.” If he didn’t like you, he cut you from his life like cancer. You can always tell a monster: He wears scarves indoors.

So I guess the idea is that people able to cut you from their life without a thought are always – graphically – ready to hit the road. Always already dressed for the outside. Or more – people inclined to hate all people, to hate humanity as such, make a point of abandoning one person in their life after another because… because they hate all people. And this is monstrous behavior. Not bad behavior, Garner seems to suggest; he’s not going to moralize. He’s going to describe. Some people are monsters full stop.

The artist was amoral: violent, selfish, vindictive, lecherous.

Some of our greatest artists are – the French have a phrase for it – monstres sacrés. Freud, Picasso, Hemingway, Henry Miller…

You don’t have to be like that – UD‘s beloved Don DeLillo, her beloved Donald Justice – these are earnest, kind, loyal geniuses. But some great artists are monsters.


But the scarf business. It made me think of a film I finally got around to seeing — a film I adored. The Darjeeling Limited. The plot revolves around three brothers in search of their mother, who has not only basically abandoned them, but has responded to their request to visit her with No. They visit her anyway, at her remote convent in India (if you’ve read any Michel Houellebecq, these plot elements will seem very familiar), where she awkwardly, briefly (before again fleeing them) interacts with them.

During their conversation, one of the sons asks, with great intensity because it has preoccupied him for a long time, why she didn’t attend their father’s funeral. She looks at him funny – like, what? – and says “Because I didn’t want to.”

See, now, UD roared with laughter through this movie, and especially at this moment, probably because she finds people who have settled into their being in a relaxed unapologetic unexplanatory way enormously appealing and even liberating. Are they ruthless? Many of them. Let’s drop in on psychoanalyst Adam Phillips at this point.

Sanity involves learning to enjoy conflict, and giving up on all myths of harmony, consistency and redemption… A culture that is obsessed with happiness must really be in despair, mustn’t it? Otherwise why would anybody be bothered about it at all? It’s become a preoccupation because there’s so much unhappiness. The idea that if you just reiterate the word enough … we’ll all cheer up is preposterous… The cultural demand now is be happy, or enjoy yourself, or succeed. You have to sacrifice your unhappiness and your critique of the values you’re supposed to be taking on. You’re supposed to go: ‘Happiness! Yes, that’s all I want!’ But what about justice or reality or ruthlessness – or whatever my preferred thing is?

The Darjeeling Limited is hilarious in part because the boys keep bothering India for harmony, consistency, redemption… On their way to their mother, they’re always farcically flopping down in this or that temple…

The Perry Expedition

The Pride of Pennsylvania – Rep. Scott Perry – worked his ass off to make Trump King; and if the effort ultimately failed, he gets an A for Effort. I mean, Scott Perry almost made his Federalist Society (tremble when you say that) crony Attorney General! And once he, his crony, and Trump did that, it would have been an easy matter to send a threatening letter from the Justice Dept. to Georgia election officials: We’re gonna investigate your dirty results so you better go ahead and invalidate them.

The plan almost worked; the one thing the plotters overlooked was a Justice Dept. crawling with people who actually believed in the rule of law! The leadership threatened to quit en masse, which would have been a very bad look, even for Trump, who clearly could give a shit about bad looks.


Anyhoo. As the AG of Pennsylvania puts it:

Representative Perry ought to familiarize himself with Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of our Constitution. There must be consequences for this conduct.

UD will admit that this daily flushing out of traitors is quite the show.

And speaking of domestic terrorists…

feast your eyes. We’ve followed the appalling haredim on this blog forever. We have zero sympathy for those, like Nathan Lopes Cardozo, who are shocked and devastated and yada yada because this wonderful pious group of Jews turn out to be – to a significant degree – a twisted cult, indifferent to their own well-being and the well-being of everyone who shares a world with them. “It’s enough with using the term ‘small group,’ because this is nonsense. These are thousands of rioters who are uninterested in Israeli laws, they look to rabbis and to no one else.” A former police chief speaks. Haredi leadership, writes Israel Hayom, is “not condemning the attacks on the cops, and thus are full participants in the [violence.]”

“[M]y whole world is falling apart; [it is] as if Judaism has become a farce,” moans Cardozo in the face of a community dying in droves from a pandemic they think doesn’t exist because they think science doesn’t exist; a community torching buses and injuring police as a state they loathe (because they don’t believe in the existence of states) attempts to make them recognize, much less obey, its laws. Cardozo didn’t notice any of this in the last twenty years or so? Didn’t notice the way they treat women, fail to educate their children, fail to contribute to Israel’s defense, fail to seek employment of any kind?

Weepy demands that the haredim suddenly transform themselves right now into rational law-abiding contributors to civilization are pathetic. More than any religion with which I’m familiar, ultra-orthodoxy displays the death-wish Christopher Hitchens believed a feature of all religions. He was wrong that this characterized all religions. But the evidence is in; he could have been writing about large portions of the haredim when he wrote:

[L]urking under it at all times in all its forms is a desire for this life to come to an end. For this poor world to be over. The yearning, the secret death wish that’s in all of it: ‘let this be gone!’

Another writer on Hitchens notes him singling out as characteristic of some religions “a contempt for all things of this world… [which amounts to] an acceptable form of nihilism.”

Even more insidiously, demands that the government of Israel stop enabling this miserable lot are hopeless. It will get much, much worse.

The Wondrous World of Josh

Ever since he was a little boy, Josh has defended misunderstood domestic terrorists. Now that he’s all grown up, he’s leading them!

Rudy Getting Suedy

Not that he cares. He’s in the same gerontic garden of delights as you know who, and no pissant $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit is gonna rain on his parade!

“Dominion was not founded in Venezuela to fix elections for Hugo Chávez,” the suit says. “It was founded in 2002 in John Poulos’s basement in Toronto to help blind people vote on paper ballots.”

In response to the lawsuit, Giuliani released a statement.

A lot of people are saying that actually Hugo Chavez is still alive, living in Toronto, an employee of Dominion Voting Systems. We demand that Chavez be brought to the USA and deposed in regard to his knowledge of Dominion conspiracies during the last presidential election. A lot of people are telling me that Chavez is in possession of explosive new information about fraud which will make what we have already revealed about vote tampering look like small potatoes.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

[I]nfluential Republicans are lobbying senators ahead of the [Trump] impeachment trial. The effort includes multiple former Trump administration officials, donors, former members of Congress, and current and former Capitol Hill aides — all encouraging Republican senators to vote to convict Trump.

OTOH: Every Senator doing a weewee at the Capitol metal detector cuz no guns allowed in the chamber is firmly anti-conviction.

It’s a small story amid an Israel burning with ultraorthodox rioters…

but the Australian ultra-orthodox school teacher accused by multiple students of sexual abuse has finally been flown back there. She fled to Israel as soon as charges were brought against her in Australia, and Israel’s powerful ultraorthodox establishment did what it could to protect her from facing justice.

Israeli police … have recommended charges of fraud and breach of trust against former Health Minister Yaakov Litzman for suspicions he pressured ministry employees to skew Leifer’s psychiatric evaluations in her favor. [She claimed she was too mentally ill to be tried.] Litzman, a powerful ultra-Orthodox politician, denies wrongdoing.

And Litzman… ah, Litzman! Helluva health minister!

For those keeping track, this is where I started laughing out loud.

“I resent my own humanity and don’t feel anything real anymore,” one “starter pack” meme reads above a collage of White Claw, Xanax, vapes, succulents and streaming-platform logos.

DGMW: It’s a wonderful article (I’m not finished yet, but it’s a really good take on Oblomovism-in-America) which thinks hard, from a lot of angles, about the tendency (the author claims it’s a tendency – I’m not so sure), under the unrelenting stimulation of consumer capitalism, to pull away into no sensation, few possessions, the thinnest sort of personhood, nothingness… But when I got to this sentence, which rolled up into a little ball all the latest ennui products PLUS a Dostoevskian Girl Scout pledge (I promise to do my best to resent my humanity and feel nothing, so help me God.), I sorta lost it.

But let’s see… Let’s see what else this essay, which appears in the fat glossy New York Times Sunday Magazine, awash in splashy double-page ads for gigantic apartments in gated waterfront communities, has to say.

It says that a pandemicky insurrectiony landscape has driven us inward, escapeward, and we are using the free time to meditate on the meaninglessness of all things.


Me, I see it as a much simpler panic-response to L’Age du Trump — Trump, who embodies the apotheosis of grasping, grandiose consumer capitalism.

Grotesquely fat, grotesquely tall, and obsessed with tallness, hebephrenically acquisitive, a vapid psychotic braggart with a tall vapid clotheshorse cantering alongside him, the Late Builder (let’s call him) assortatively mated with a skyscraper in order to produce a super-skyscraper. In the ironic way of well-laid plans, he made an almost seven foot tall teenager. Similarly, Trump wanted world-historical power and got slow hours on golf courses in the blinding sun, followed by regal waves to gatherings of the insane and stupid at Florida intersections. Anyone would be horrified by this fate, and much of America, as the NYT essay rightly notes, is sprinting, horrified, in the opposite direction.

Even the Mar-a-Lago membership is skedaddling from Ma and Pa Ubu’s palace.

Trump neatly, fully, in a chilling, cautionary way, conveys that wanting shit is stupid (our mad loathed Trumps du jour, Cruz and Hawley, want shit), so people don’t want shit. Even Trump’s exemplar and bromantic partner, Putin, might be beginning to understand this, as photos of his palace complex on the Black Sea appear in the Russian press and rouse the populace (see 1917).

One reason I doubt the whole NYT thesis has to do with something the author doesn’t mention – all them dogs everyone’s getting. In the last year, rates of dog ownership have gone through the woof. And unlike no-maintenance succulents, dogs are way-high maintenance, and I mean emotional as well as logistical. It’s only one trend, to be sure, but you can probably think of others equally at odds with existential/affective minimalism.

Anyway. My faith in my country’s earnest godly greed – the very foundation of the America dream – remains strong. You don’t want to get Americans too close to philosophy, because with all the drugs available here, plus our brittle naive Gatsby idealism, we take one glance at philosophy and collapse into a heap of accidental overdose. You don’t resent your own humanity; you resent the clownish/tyrannical non-humanity of the Late Builder. Do not panic; you are nothing like him. He has been shat out (with great groaning effort) from the body politic, and we’re going to be okay.

La Kid, Heating Pad.

Now that things have quieted down, she’s back in her city apartment.

Burqa Bans: Governments Never Learn.

They’re always shocked – shocked – when strong majorities favor burqa/niqab bans; and they always say the same thing when warning their populace not to vote for them: So few fully veiled women walk the streets of our cities that it’s silly to legislate against them; only rabid reactionaries favor the bans; most fully veiled women are tourists…

So Switzerland, which has a national referendum on fully veiling coming up in early March, is yet another boringly repetitive example: Almost 65% of Swiss favor the ban; the government is madly lecturing them on how backward they are to support it; the population clearly intends to ignore the lecture. Only hard-right politicians favor it! … Well, okay, some left-wing parties favor it…

And why? For the obvious reason that it oppresses and erases women and by the way can certainly demoralize young girls who go out and see this embodiment of womanhood in their neighborhoods…

And who cares if they’re tourists? The fully veiled woman – a visitor from Saudi Arabia — who took a front row seat at the Opéra Bastille a few years back inspired an instant strike on the part of the performers: They would not sing until she unveiled or left. She left. (France has had a burqa ban for years.)

As to there being only a few full-veilers: Are you kidding me? Rates of full veiling appear to be going up in England, as you might expect when countries normalize the practice.

The main problem the Swiss government will face once the ban happens is the loss of a certain number of incredibly rich tourists. Boohoo. Otherwise, note that burqa bans all over Europe (and other parts of the world) have been imposed with virtually no difficulty.


When did the English language decide that the OO sound meant stoopid and/or crazy? Why is it so easy to think of words designating dumb/nuts that feature OO? Rube, yahoo, boob, booboisie, stooge, goon, loon, moonbeam, buffoon, doo-doo, woo-woo, zoo (as in “the zoo at the Capitol building”).

UD wondered about this as she read a wonderful opinion piece from Alabama, where the author, seeking an organizing principle, a leit motif, around which to discuss “our political class in Alabama, … folks too dumb to understand how dumb they are, made that way through self-inflicted repetitive brain injuries,” lights on The Three Stooges (plus Shemp).

Kyle Whitmire works his way down the list of Alabama’s highest-profile idiots, comparing each of them to his Stooge-equivalent:

Mo Brooks “believes sea-level rise is due to rocks falling in the water; he’s called mitigation measures put in place by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey ‘nanny state’ politics and last year, he bragged on the effectiveness of the American healthcare system against the coronavirus… [S]poke to insurrectionists before they stormed the capitol, [and] now faces censure by Congress.”

Rep. Barry Moore: “[T]old Alabamians that, if Trump could get the coronavirus, everybody would wind up getting it, so there was little point to protective measures… [S]upported overturning a lawful election and declared that he was leaving Twitter after the platform had already suspended his account… [S]hared a meme on Facebook defending Kenosha, Wisc., shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, saying he’s ‘fought back.'”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville is “too dangerous to trust around kitchen appliances, much less the power of a United States senator. And he’s prone to slap people he’s mad at and no one assumes he knows what he’s doing.”

[Attorney General] Steve Marshall’s organization “helped organize the pro-Trump march in Washington, but after that march turned into an assault on the capitol, Marshall said he didn’t know anything about the organization’s role in it. Marshall promised to investigate, but when asked whether Trump bore any responsibility, Marshall played dumb. ‘I didn’t see anything about the rally,’ he told the Montgomery Advertiser. ‘I don’t know anything about his remarks.'”

As the massive Trump tide recedes (or, as one observer memorably put it, as “witless ape rides helicopter” out of DC), it leaves in its wake schools of minnows that we hadn’t been able to see before, drowning as we were in the tide.

But now is the time to zoom in – on the fools, the nincompoops, the kooks, the googly-eyed, the stooges – before they try for another insurrection against the republic.

This blog will chronicle their movements.

Dolts with Colts look likely…

… to be a real moneymaker for the federal government, now that fines will be imposed on House members unable to resist even for an hour or two the peculiar arousal of up close and personal arsenals. Friends and family have tried all kinds of interventions, but Lauren Boebert’s craving for glocks has now become a financial and reputational emergency, costing her so far $5000 in fines as she goes into a swoon at the Capitol metal detector and becomes a national laughingstock.

That amount will rise with each daily infraction, until her salary falls to something like $20,000 a year, but farcical as this daily public mental breakdown may appear, addiction is no laughing matter. Much as she might like to avoid personal and professional disaster, Boebert has no more control over her screaming fits at the detector, and her efforts to illegally evade it, than Jeffrey Epstein did over his daily need for sex slaves.

Boebert’s the loudest, but she’s far from the only House member melting down every day at the metal detector. Fine-wise, we’re talking real money, which UD proposes Pelosi donate to a fund for the victims of gun violence.

Okay when you read about Andy Harris this morning, remember, he’s the ONLY Republican representative from my state!

The ONLY one; and he represents people way over THERE… over on the far right… the eastern shore… which is BARELY Maryland… Let’s call it Tidewater West Virginia or something …

Back over here, in MARYLAND, we don’t elect stinky doodoos who do a doodoo in front of the Capitol police days after a violent insurrection because they MUST be allowed to break the rules and carry their guns onto the House floor because what if there’s another insurrection and he can be of assistance to the Proud Boys? Pence is gone, but someone’s gotta pop Pelosi…

Cosmic convergence, too, with one of this blog’s perennials, His Holiness Adrian Vermeule — who shares with Andy Harris an adoration of Hungary’s dictator, Victor Orban!

The University of Georgia Needs to Disown its Most Notorious Living Graduate.

Rescind her degree; denounce her; make it clear you will have nothing to do with her. The University of Georgia – long designated on this blog The Worst University in America (not all posts at this link are about the University of Georgia; scroll around a bit) – has drawn attention to its worstness again by having spawned this vile nut. Without at least a statement expressing its embarrassment that it allowed itself to be sullied by her, the school will forever be known as the place that awarded a degree to one of the most squalid minds America has ever thrown up.

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Dr. Bernard Carroll, known as the "conscience of psychiatry," contributed to various blogs, including Margaret Soltan's University Diaries, for which he sometimes wrote limericks under the name Adam.
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George Washington University English professor Margaret Soltan writes a blog called University Diaries, in which she decries the Twilight Zone-ish state our holy land’s institutes of higher ed find themselves in these days.
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It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
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There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

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Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.

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Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
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As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
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Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
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