May 8, 2010

Iron Man v. the Golem: Who would win in a fight?

A friend writes:
One of the most astonishing Jewish cultural transformations in the Australia of the last decade - which is also the decade in which the ultra-Orthodox Jews, mostly Eastern European in origin, started exercising serious muscle - has been the overall decline of Woody-Allen-type New York Jewish intellectuality (in my experience Seinfeld's Aussie following was almost wholly gentile), and the rise of Jewish mysticism in its weirdest, most quasi-cabbalistic forms.

Ten years ago Jewish artistic life, whenever an outsider like myself encountered it, was pretty much entirely Annie Hall, violin recitals by Jewish princesses in fashionable music clubs, and "my son the doctor". (Shades of the proverbial blue-rinse Catskills matron who is said to have complained about a production of Fiddler on the Roof: "It can't have cost much to put on that show. Look how cheap all the costumes were.")

But now, I have seen the future, and it is ... golems. That's right. Goodbye Podhoretz, hello Isaac Bashevis Singer. If you are a young Australian composer who wants to win an award for a new opera, you make your central character the Golem of Prague. Golems are sexy. With golems, you cannot fail, whatever the difficulties in terms of production costs of having a ten-foot zombie on stage.

I, too, had been thinking about the Golem of Prague, a giant dimwitted magic robot supposedly made out of clay by the Rabbi of Prague. Why is our popular culture suddenly besieged with golems? I think this is a good, not very sinister example of how the past (in this case cultural history) is always changing to fit the demands of the present. As Orwell said in 1984, "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."


I was thinking about golems because on Wednesday I was rereading parts of Michael Chabon's golem-centric Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 2000, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, about two Jewish cousins in New York from 1939 onward who team up to create comic books about a superhero named the Escapist, whose true identity is the superWASPy Tom Mayflower.

There were a lot of now famous pairs of Jewish writers and artists who together created superheroes, such as Siegel & Shuster (Superman), so this is a rich vein for historical fiction. One of Chabon's many theses is that Jewish-American comic book creators were inspired by the purported legend of the Golem of Prague.

My kid took the Advanced Placement English Literature test on Thursday, and he had decided that if the third essay question turned out to be at all relevant, instead of writing about one of the recommended books, he would avail himself of the option of writing about another book "of comparable literary merit" and explicate the relevance of Kavalier and Clay to the assigned topicWhen I looked through K&C again, I realized the wisdom of his choice. Chabon had made his magnum opus relevant to almost any conceivable AP English Lit question. The only other book I've read that radiates so much authorial hard work at exemplifying every single "literary element" that the AP test might ask about is Alan Moore's graphic novel, The Watchmen. Both The Watchmen and Kavalier and Clay are attempts by very smart and industrious writers to vindicate the much-derided genre of comic books by creating extremely sophisticated superhero-related works.

Unfortunately, I found The Watchmen unpleasant. In contrast, Kavalier and Clay is a good read, with likable characters and lots of plot. (Chabon is outspoken about how literary fiction needs more and better storytelling.)

Not surprisingly, K and C proved red meat for this year's AP question, which turned out to be on the theme of "[oh, I guess I'm not supposed to talk about it]." [Whatever], golems, whatever you are asked to expound upon, K and C's got all your AP needs covered. Indeed, as Wikipedia's article on "Golem" explains:
One of the two protagonists, an amateur Jewish magician and escape artist named Josef Kavalier, arranges to smuggle himself out of Nazi Europe along with the famed Prague golem in a coffin. Kavalier comes to identify with the golem as a symbol of Jewish resistance against the Nazis, basing his comic book character The Escapist on his own revenge fantasies, and eventually enlisting in US service during WWII. The theme of vengeance against anti-Semites and subsequent regret of such pervades the novel, culminating in Kavalier's own drawing of a modern graphic novel centered around a golem.

Meanwhile, Kavalier's American cousin Sammy Klayman, the writer of the pair, change his name to Clay. ("Klayman" = "clay man" = golem. Get it?)

So, golems are everywhere in today's popular culture.

Why? In the past, Jews made up stories about WASPy superheroes with names like Clark Kent, but now Jews make up stories about Jews making up stories about WASPy superheroes. (Did you know that "irony" is an official AP literary element?)

The only problem with Golem Mania is that, well, the concept of a big lunk made out of clay just really isn't that awesome. (There's the other problem that the Golem of Prague story probably isn't an 18th century folktale as alleged, but was likely made up out of whole cloth in 1837.) 20th Century superheroes like Iron Man are a lot more fun than the Golem.

Or, more directly, let's compare 18th Century sci-fi stories (or pseudo-18th Century): the Golem of Prague v. Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Which one is more interesting? Which one is better? Who would win in a fight?

In the 20th Century, Jews in America and Australia would almost all say: Gulliver's Travels.

And that reflected a general pattern. Most educated Jews in the 20th Century tended to view medieval (i.e., pre-1800) Jewish culture as kind of boring and claustrophobic. There's something depressing about contemplating all that Ashkenazi talent spinning its wheels endlessly in the same old ruts. If you consider the life of, say, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), it's really just more interesting and fun and broadly innovative than the life of almost any culturally Jewish European before they began to liberate themselves from medieval Jewish claustrophobia around the time of Franklin's death.

The 20th Century Jewish solution was to blame this pre-1800 history of cultural isolation and lack of artistic and scientific productivity on gentile discrimination. Obviously, that played a role, but a fairer reading would be that much of it was self-inflicted.

Europeans Jews tended to be richer, on average per capita, than Christians for much of this time period. Thus, they didn't see much they needed to borrow from the culture of their neighbors. In dozens of generations in Eastern Europe, for example, Yiddish-speaking Jews typically didn't bother learning more of their Slavic neighbors' languages than the minimum necessary for doing business.

In the later 18th Century, though, some German Jews, such as Moses Mendelssohn (the composer's grandfather) began to wake up to the progress made by gentiles and to their own increasing quasi-Malthusian impoverishment due to their vastly increased population.

But the problem in the 21st Century is that, say, Gulliver's Travels just isn't Jewish. Today, ethnic pride demands that a rich, powerful group have a rich, powerful, vibrant cultural history, even if it actually had a kind of dull, self-limited one.

So, Jewish artists at the elite level, and their funders, are turning inward. Thus, Golem Mania.

The good news is that there is still a huge amount of Jewish talent, such as Chabon. On the other hand, there was presumably a huge amount of Jewish talent in, say, the 17th and 18th Centuries. But how much good did it do?

136 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your recent submission might end up being a lightning rod. You've definitely made some interesting observations. I've noticed the same trend that you've observed and have even seen what may be a reaction to it. I think that Isaac Bashevis Singer is very overrated and I loved the shtetl scene in "A Serious Man" that looked to me like a brilliant parody of the sort of Isaac Bashevis Singer shtetl tale that we're all supposed to like now.

~ Risto

l said...

The neocons/AIPAC convinced a 10 foot tall idiot with feet of clay to fight Israel's enemies.

asdfasdfsaf said...

Isn't Golem the putz in LOR?

aadfasdfsaf said...

So, as I understand it from Sailer's piece, GOLEM is metaphorically the case of Jewish genius ideally putting dimwit goy power to good use. More like Goy-lem. Under the best circumstances, this would be good for Jews and goyim. Jews would control goyim to be act nice(and not attack Jews), and goyim would benefit by being guided by superior intelligence. It's like a Jewish cowboy on a goy horse.

Instead of David fighting Goliath, it's more like David reprogramming Goliath. Kinda like how John Connors reprogrammed the Terminator in part II.
I suppose neocon 'control' of the US military and foreign policy count as golemization too.
Golem is the goy body, Sholem is the Jewish mind that controls the goy body.
And think of athletes owned and controlled by Jews who own the sports franchies.
And indeed think of all technology with the rise of hightech and computing. Goy nations like China build the hardware but Jews design and build the software.

Golem Sachs, the Jewish cultural empire.

asdadfasdfasf said...

If God made man out of clay, there must be temptation on the part of the Chosen People to remake goyim out of clay. I just hope they don't make goyim too gay.

R. J. Stove said...

My purely personal feeling about golem-related modern music is, once you've witnessed one 12-foot clay halfwit proclaiming "I gotta be me" in post-Webernian style while he stomps through the streets of Habsburg Prague, you've pretty much witnessed them all.

But Wikipedia says that the last half-century has seen at least three golem operas make it to the professional stage, not counting other operas workshopped by students:

# The Golem (1980), opera by Larry Sitsky

# Golem (1989), opera by John Casken

# The Golem (1962), opera by Abraham Ellstein

There is a version of the golem legend according to which the golem falls for a fully human female, gets spurned by her, and then goes postal. I know nothing of the Ellstein piece, nor have I looked up Ellstein himself to find out who he was/is, but if memory serves me the Casken and Sitsky compositions both employ the golem-in-lerve variant.

Steve Sailer said...

By the way, the name of the book is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, not K "and" C, but Blogger wasn't accepting ampersands.

Dave said...

I found some parts of Kavalier and Clay to be predictable, but the part set in Antarctica was brilliant and unexpected.

"And that reflected a general pattern. Most educated Jews in the 20th Century tended to view medieval (i.e., pre-1800) Jewish culture as kind of boring and claustrophobic. There's something depressing about contemplating all that Ashkenazi talent spinning its wheels endlessly in the same old ruts."

There is some truth to this. As kid in Hebrew school, when we studied Jewish history, the part of it up until the destruction of the Second Temple was fascinating and interesting -- lots of battles, prophets, priests, and miracles. Then, after the fall of Jerusalem in 70, it was all about rabbis, studying Torah in caves, and it was a letdown after that. Jewish history didn't get interesting again until the birth of Zionism.

Anonymous said...

Franklin wasn't nearly as intelligent as, say, Spinoza.


You can teach a high school class all about Franklin's "innovative" work and they will understand it with relative ease. Can you say the same about Bento?


You can call Franklin a "polymath" but here's what that amounts to: influential statesman, prolific writer, tinkerer who had a decent talent for physical science.

That's fine and dandy. He had a successful life. But he made no profound contributions to philosophy, political theory, literature, or science (no need to embarrass yourself by arguing that he's particularly important to the development of physics). Fun to talk about in a history class, but let's be real. He's not Newton or Faraday.

Henry Canaday said...

I am re-reading “War and Peace,” partly to avoid these third-derivative-of-reality modern novels. Of course, as in math, the third derivative can tell you something about reality. So we have a clever modern author writing about a couple of writers decades ago who were inspired by a fabulist of a couple centuries ago who created a story to deal with his realty. And this tells us, what? I think you have made a good start of it. But I am going back to Natasha and the rest of the Rostovs and Bolkonskys. As a conservative in an ever leftward-ratcheting age, I get a physical pleasure every time I read Kutuzov’s words, “Patience and time, Bolkonsky, I’ll make them eat horseflesh.”

Steve Sailer said...

"Franklin wasn't nearly as intelligent as, say, Spinoza."

But isn't that my point? That Franklin's culture allowed him a more fun and productive and absurdly successful life?

AMac said...

> Or, more directly, let's compare 18th Century sci-fi stories (or pseudo-18th Century): the Golem of Prague v. Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Which one is more interesting? Which one is better? Who would win in a fight?

Aside from having a publication date that's 18 years into the 19th Century, Shelley's Frankenstein would provide plenty of grist for this lit-crit mill.

4.

Maybe 5, but the tone is awfully breezy, and there are a couple of awkward passages that could have been cleaned up.

Is this a ghost-written guest post? Kudos to your son if so.

Dennis Mangan said...

Spinoza may have had more impact in his field than Franklin, but he was also excommunicated by the Jewish community in Amsterdam. Later in life he was offered a university professorship by Leibniz (which he turned down). So Spinoza, while raised and educated as a Jew, escaped the Jewish milieu and participated in the wider culture.

SFG said...

Not bad, but due to generational issues (that's not meant to sting: as a conservative you can appreciate the wisdom of age and tradition) you're missing one key component of this: nerd 'culture'.

For reasons I can't explain, geek isn't the diametric opposite of chic it used to be. Hipsters wear horn-rimmed glasses and give their bands names like 'Weezer'. And comic book movies are popular. Of course they make them because they make money, but people are a lot less afraid of seeing fanboy fantasies than they used to be.

Heck, you're actually seeing lots of teenage girls dressed in sailor suits and blue hair at anime conventions. Even at conventional science fiction conventions you'll see packs of dorky-looking teenage girls. I'm actually convinced the rise of anime reflects Asians taking over nerd culture from Jews, but one of the people here can probably give a better opinion.

As for the Golem, seeing it only as a Jewish construct is missing one piece of the puzzle. The golem was one of the more popular monsters in Dungeons & Dragons (invented by Midwestern wargamers, BTW), where it serves as a fantasy analog of the robot, and is made out of (ick) flesh, stone, and iron as well as clay, as well as other things when you get to the inevitable expansions of the game. Such er, uses of resources as World of Warcraft are based on the D&D model, with warriors and wizards fighting dragons and ogres. And there will always be a couple of golems running around.

The other thing is that this whole bizarre quasi-cultural subcontinent is not as isolated as it used to be from the world of real literature. Aspiring writers usually have a few nerdy friends and you're bound to see some cross-pollination.

Anonymous said...

Like Tom Wolfe, I wish Michael Chabon would submit to a good editor. He's bursting with ideas, but his books are inevitably just a shade too long. For instance, in Kavalier [AMPERSAND] Klay, was the scene in Alaska really needed?

Good on your son for picking a modern book for the AP English. It sure beats Ulysses. I think I used Catch-22.

Regarding Golems, the tvtropes article is enlightening: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Golem

Anonymous said...

In the list of Jewish comic book writing/art teams, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby deserve mention as well. Chabon drew heavily on Simon's memoir "The Comic Book Makers" for his descriptions of the early comic book biz, as well as (I think) his description of the physical appearances of the title characters. Simon's character Captain America, a weakling transformed into a powerful superhero to attack the enemy of the Jews (the first, pre-Pearl Harbor issue of the comic book depicts him punching out Hitler) strikes me as the clearest depiction of a Golem-like figure in those early comics.

Tanstaafl said...

In the past, Jews made up stories about WASPy superheroes with names like Clark Kent, but now Jews make up stories about Jews making up stories about WASPy superheroes.

As if.

Barry Deutsch of Leftycartoons.com writes:

Aside from my political cartooning, my current comics project is my comic book Hereville, a fantasy adventure comic about an 11-year-old Jewish girl.

In his political cartooning Deutsch prefers making "anti-racist" cartoons about bashing WASPy Joe and Jane Sixpack.

Here's an example of what "anti-racism" means to Deutsch: Ampersand: Denial Is So White.

SFG said...

"That's fine and dandy. He had a successful life. But he made no profound contributions to philosophy, political theory, literature, or science (no need to embarrass yourself by arguing that he's particularly important to the development of physics). Fun to talk about in a history class, but let's be real. He's not Newton or Faraday."

In the sense of scientific theory, no. But we can all long for the day when our founding fathers were allowed to be smart, no? ;) I think conservative nerds can especially related to this one...

Indy said...

I'm not so sure about that "Franklin wasn't nearly as smart..." comment.

I've gone through three Franklin stages:

1. Child learning to revere the founding fathers

2. Teenager realizing that I was taught to revere the founding fathers, and that therefore they were more likely just normal people with normal talents and failings who, because of their peculiar role in our nation's History - have been turned into supermen.

3. Adult, reevaluating the founders from afresh, diving deep into biographies and other historical accounts, and realizing that, if anything, my childhood learning wasn't reverential enough, and that it really was amazing and extraordinarily lucky how many characters of the first rank the country was endowed with in its formative years.

Now, I think things are mostly reversed. Most "founding era" education focuses on the negative, with the triumph of the counter-cultural view that these individuals were little other than a bunch of criminals, establishing an evil empire only redeemed by the efforts of the last 50 years.

I wonder if the "teenage rebellion" instinct will overcome the anti-reverential view too, or whether there's something more attractive and persistent in despising the past and thinking oneself superior to one's predecessors.

Dahlia said...

"...began to wake up to... and to their own increasing quasi-Malthusian impoverishment due to their vastly increased population."

What do you mean by this, especially "quasi-Malthusian"?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, there was presumably a huge amount of Jewish talent in, say, the 17th and 18th Centuries. But how much good did it do?



I don't know, is there any evidence at all for that presumption or is it just the general belief that Jews are and have always been "talented"?

I would think that believers in HBD would be open to the probability that the characteristics of people would change over time. And not epochal time either.

Anonymous said...

That's fine and dandy. He had a successful life. But he made no profound contributions to philosophy, political theory, literature, or science (no need to embarrass yourself by arguing that he's particularly important to the development of physics). Fun to talk about in a history class, but let's be real. He's not Newton or Faraday.




No, but neither is Spinoza, who likewise made no "profound contributions to philosophy, political theory, literature, or science". His main claim to fame is being that rarest of things, a Jewish philosopher.

Udolpho.com said...

"But isn't that my point? That Franklin's culture allowed him a more fun and productive and absurdly successful life?"

Well it's pretty obvious that "fun and productive" isn't the path Jews are driven to take. They are far more concerned with status and the demonstration of amoral intellect than with having fun or being productive. My son the doctor gets at that--what Jews have to endure at the hands of their parents. It does not tend to give them lively personalities like Franklin's.

l said...

Off topic.

Here's liberal Hollywood's idea of a response to surging nativism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTTfjSTGaVI

Murder fantasy.

Obama's Mama said...

“Unfortunately, I found The Watchmen unpleasant.” Understatement!
You are a brilliant guy Steve, but I’m continually baffled by your tolerance for (and apparent enjoyment of) mass produced near-trash such as Hollywood movies and now even comic books (sorry, graphic novels.)
I wouldn’t touch anything that has ties to the kitschy world of comics with a ten foot pole. So that makes me a better person than you. Thank you for validating my self worth by exposing yourself as a tacky, tasteless philistine. How gauche.

MQ said...

I am re-reading “War and Peace,” partly to avoid these third-derivative-of-reality modern novels

You should read Vasili Grossman's "Life and Fate", the War and Peace of the 20th century. Arguably both the greatest Jewish and the greatest Russian novel of the century, it will fully sate your desire for reality. Some of the Holocaust scenes are almost unbearable to read, though.

Lucinda said...

Mary Shelley based "Frankenstein" on the Golem of Prague, which was a sixteenth century tale. There may not be written versions of it until later centuries, but Judaism has a longstanding oral tradition and the story always refers to a specific sixteenth century rabbi.

The Golem story is compelling because it deals with the human desire for power over life and death, and the punishment that comes from either God or circumstances when a human takes on the role of God.

The Golem is made from earth because Adam was made from earth.

Frankenstein has had lasting popularity because it deals with the responsibility which comes with scientific discoveries. Something that CAN be done is not necessarily something that SHOULD be done. The fatal flaw in the protagonist is his hubris in thinking that because he has produced life, he has a God-like ability to control that life. He gets high on his own power but finds that he is not God.

Shelley brilliantly adapted the elemental dilemma to deal with man's relationship to creation at a time when science was beginning to make great progress. With great power comes great responsibility, Spiderman.

I think the Golem story still has great resonance, in the Frankenstein version if that is your cultural taste. Now that scientists are coming closer to the possibility of human cloning, it is obvious that the ethical issues involved take a smaller and smaller priority. Look at the "octomom" in southern California. What Dr. Frankenstein created that hot mess? And why does he still have a license?

These stories are cautionary tales about what can happen when you push the "override" button on natural processes.

BTW, I loved K&C. One of my favorite novels. Also fascinating is his following book, "The Yiddish Policeman's Union".

Old Rebel said...

And then there's Benjamin Grimm, The Thing of the Fantastic Four, who's not only Jewish, but even looks like a man made of clay.

Luke Lea said...

You want the name of a truly great Jewish novel? The Family Mashber by Der Nister (pen name) set in a real 19th century Polish town where the author grew up. Kind of hard to describe -- the story of a family of mystics and business men -- with vivid portraits of Jewish poverty like nothing you've ever seen. Better than Dostoevsky, and better than Singer's The Castle, which is the only thing comparable. A masterpiece of European fiction in my opinion.

Luke Lea said...

And by the way Franklyn was definitely in the same intellectual league as Spinoza. You are only showing your ignorance if you think otherwise. But they were two of the greatest polymaths of all time. Hard to imagine a third.

dearieme said...

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100038689/under-false-colours-spectator-review-trashes-remnicks-sycophantic-biography-of-obama/

Luke Lea said...

I goofed. Meant Leibniz, not Spinoza. Spinoza wasn't even a polymath as far as I can tell.

asdfasdfsdf said...

Is the Day the Earth Stood Still a Golem-ish movie, what with the giant robot and all?

Golem from 1915

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ6uX8P240s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqgP7vLTug8&feature=related

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This film by Herzog has Golem-ish overtones though based on a real life story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjAOvTZnmIQ

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The Japanese Maijin film(either from 50s or 60s)struck me as Golemish too.
--------------

Did Golem inspire Frankenstein?

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It seems like the Golemish thing is rather generic. It's about brains using brawn, sometimes wisely, sometimes foolishly.

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2001 is intersting for the golem figure of HAL outthinks and outwits man. Golemization becomes reversed, where the creation of man looks upon man as something to control. There was something like that in Demon Seed too.

No goy can beat a Jew in chess, but future computers might. Deep Blue did for awhile.

-----------

adsasdfadsfas said...

Are MLK and Obama Brolems?

adfasdfasdff said...

Golem Mania explains why people like Frank Rich and Friedman feel hostility toward Tea Party. They believe the smart Jews should control the dimwit goylems. Goylems should NOT think or demand anything on their own.

You might call their polemics 'golemics'.

Anonymous said...

To the guy jabbering about "Bento", I'm curious why you chose as your counterexample the single most famous Jewish person who was rejected by his own community. You think you're refuting Steve's point, but you're actually supporting it.

asdfasdfasf said...

Golem is metaphor of Jewish control of dimwit goy MALE strength.

Holem--ho for whore for you dimwits--could serve as Jewish control of dimwit goy shikses... like Marilyn Monroe.

Or maybe it should be called bimbolem or just bolem.

Christopher Paul said...

Outside of a few countries like France and Britain, European Jews faced onerous obstacles to advancement, both individually and as a community.

The freedom they enjoyed in America allowed them to unleash all that pent-up creativity and industry, as it had with other groups before them.

Take, for example, American blacks. Once they had won their (admittedly imperfect) freedom from slavery, you saw the rise of historically black colleges and universities, George Washington Carver, Scott Joplin, the Harlem Renaissance and so on.

Anonymous said...

Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket of the Series of Unfortunate Events) wrote an earlier adult novel called 'Watch Your Mouth'. I remember it was about incest (involving a bj during a seder dinner), opera, and golems somehow. A comedy.

And Chabon's wife, Ayelet Waldman, is a real piece of work, as they say. Great post, Steve.

Dutch Boy said...

So this Golem absurdity is supposed to be the creation of the mighty Jewish intellect? Oy veh!

tommy said...

It's like a Jewish cowboy on a goy horse.

Actually, it's more like the Jewish cowboy on the Canaanite donkey. (Read pages 96-99, then read pages 33-39.)

Of course, modern Jews don't take such Talmudic language literally except on the fringe (i.e. certain sectors of the Hasidim and Haredi communities). But there is a long history dating from the time of the Talmud of regarding non-Jews as animals and natural-born slaves. There are still those in the Hasidic community (and the Haredis as well) who look forward to a messianic future where non-Jews will be slaves to Jews. From a Chabad website:

The children’s influence on their families is enormous. Two weeks ago, R’ Nimni taught the children that in the future the gentiles will be our servants. One of the boys, whose sister had a gentile boyfriend, told his sister what R’ Nimni said. She called up R’ Nimni who explained the whole issue as the Rebbe explains it.

At the end of the conversation she said, “I’m coming from Israel now where they also tried to convince me to drop my boyfriend, but in vain. From the conversation with you I’m beginning to understand the mistake I am making.”


Some of these old schoolers still take Saadia Gaon and his ilk seriously.

I recall reading a post a few months ago on a major Frum women's forum in which one mother was exasperated that her daughter was being taught at her yeshiva that non-Jews would be slaves to Jews in Messianic times. Most of the other female posters jumped in to defend the idea, mostly by sugar-coating the notion. ("They'll want to be our slaves! They'll feel honored and privileged to be our slaves!" "We'll look after their welfare and treat them decently!" "It'll be a more enlightened system of slavery!") Many of those threads were scrubbed or made unavailable to unregistered viewers, but you can still see a few references to this idea here and there.

What is funny is the complete unwillingness of other Jews, even within the Hasidic community, to even acknowledge that some Jews really do believe in these ideas. That no Jew holds such beliefs is what you'll be told over and over again if you ask. Maybe that's because some genuinely don't know about such things and for some it's like discussing the opinions of a crazy uncle with those outside the family.

Jews will go to great lengths to whip up hysteria over anything carrying the faintest whiff of antisemitism, even when no antisemitism is explicitly implied. But if you point out the attitudes of the fringe in their own (powerful and influential) community, they'll ask, "What do you care?"

It's undoubtedly true that Jews prior to 1800 were far more likely to hold these kind of opinions about Gentiles, and it's something for non-Jews to think about as Israel becomes more ultra-Orthodox and opinions of non-Jews consequently degenerate.

Anonymous said...

Steve, this is one of your best posts ever. Has Kevin MacDonald ever used the golem metaphor?


"So, as I understand it from Sailer's piece, GOLEM is metaphorically the case of Jewish genius ideally putting dimwit goy power to good use. More like Goy-lem."

Bingo.

David said...

>Can you say the same about Bento?<

Feynman didn't. He was scathing about Spinoza.

Steve Sailer said...

"But he made no profound contributions to philosophy, political theory, literature, or science"

In economics, he anticipated Malthus by a half century, as Malthus later admitted.

But as Sam Spade said to the femme fatale just before arresting her, maybe each one of these isn't a good reason, but look how many there are!

Kylie said...

My nickname for the current First Lady is "the Golem".

From Wikipedia: "The word golem is used in the Bible to refer to an embryonic or incomplete substance...The Mishnah uses the term for an uncultivated person... Similarly, golems are often used today in metaphor either as brainless lunks or as entities serving man under controlled conditions, but hostile to him in others. Similarly, it is a Yiddish slang insult for someone who is clumsy or slow...Early on, the notion developed, that the main disability of the golem was its inability to speak..."

With her lack of verbal facility, (both oral and written), her gaucheness and her much-vaunted "toned" appearance, she's more than a little menacing in her vacuity and her massiveness. And her transformation from high-powered career woman of color to First Mom and Supportive Wife shows she's about as malleable as clay, at least in Obama's hands, even if she can't be taught to speak. Hence, the Golem.

http://image3.examiner.com/images/blog/EXID20836/images/ex_michelle_obama_headshot.jpg

...and...

http://dcairns.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/golem4.jpg

Note to Captain Jack Aubrey, it's not a question of "not bothering" to learn HTML. I got a headache from studying the link you supplied but that was all I got.

David said...

Culture high and low is being made over in the image of the shtetl. It's becoming more alien to folks like me. I feel even less connection to the weirdness that's on TV or on the radio or in the theatres than I ever did before.

For some time now, but more so in recent years, it seems art and history - and politics, too - must fit into the "transgressive" revolutionary narrative of the most radical Jews (as opposed to the Irving Berlin Jews). From filth on cable to liberal worship of womenminoritiesGBLTGheroiciconoclasticcivilrightsworkersintheSouth to Bomb Iran, "American" can now be read as "curly-headed Jewish boy busy with his revenge on the sort of people his grandparents had to put up with."

Is Iran correct? Is America basically a Jewish state? If it is, someone certainly forgot to tell Fox News's and Rush Limbaugh's audience. (Though Mr. Podheretz - the elder - is doing the damage control dance.)

James Kabala said...

"They are far more concerned with status and the demonstration of amoral intellect than with having fun"

Huh? Why, then, are Jews so overrepresented among comedians? It is true that in recent years many of these comedians have fallen into the Allen/Shandling/Seinfeld/David line of neurotic comics who never seem to be very happy in their comic personas, but could anyone really argue that the Marx brothers, the Three Stooges, Jack Benny, George Burns, Sid Casear, Don Rickles, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Billy Crystal, and even Adam Sandler were opposed to fun?

On another subject point: Steve may be obsessed with the idea that Ben Franklin lived a life of never-ending pleasure, but it is simply not true. Anyone who ends his life bitterly estranged from his own son (just read his will, for heaven's sake) has had at least one major failure in his life. He also felt underappreciated by his fellow Americans in general.

To link my two points together, I might add that while Franklin certainly did like to have fun, more than any of the other Founders his life could be described as "concerned with... the demonstration of amoral intellect."

P.S. Where (except for the vaguely similar sound) does the idea endorsed by many commenters above that golem = goyim come from? That element hardly seems to be present in the original story or (based on Steve's description; I haven't read it) in Kavalier & Clay either. In both the golem seems more like a super-Jew than a Gentile.

David said...

Luke Lea said

>I goofed. Meant Leibniz<

Didn't you also mean Kafka's The Castle, not Singer's? And Franklin, not Franklyn?

Goyishe kop!

;)

Anonymous said...

You should read Vasili Grossman's "Life and Fate", the War and Peace of the 20th century. Arguably both the greatest Jewish and the greatest Russian novel of the century

Recommendation strongly seconded. Of Soviet novels though, "Tikhyi Don" and "Master and Margarita" are significantly more important. And every European nation/culture has at least one Jewish novelist of comparable stature/quality.

adfadfasdfsdf said...

"It's like a Jewish cowboy on a goy horse."

Actually, it's more like the Jewish cowboy on the Canaanite donkey. (Read pages 96-99, then read pages 33-39.)
Of course, modern Jews don't take such Talmudic language literally except on the fringe (i.e. certain sectors of the Hasidim and Haredi communities). But there is a long history dating from the time of the Talmud of regarding non-Jews as animals and natural-born slaves. There are still those in the Hasidic community (and the Haredis as well) who look forward to a messianic future where non-Jews will be slaves to Jews.


Hasidim wanna use us as cattle, and modern Jews wanna use as guinea pigs. From Marx to Sunstein, whether it's the hard way or the soft way, it's like Jews want to socially engineer us.

There was some of this in Jesus too, though in a kind and loving way. He saw himself as the shepherd and humanity as the sheep.

When you look at how the likes of William Kristol have picked, guided, and used the likes of Sarah Palin, it's like horse-and-pony show.

Whiskey said...

You're looking at the wrong thing. Rather than Jews becoming anti-assimilation, the problem is wider and deeper.

Loss of pulp energy and "Cheap, Fast, and Out of Control" (apologies to Errol Morris). Rather than today's emphasis on being "arty" to appeal to five hipsters in a loft somewhere.

You get what comic books were don't you? They were POPULAR. Millions of boys read them. Because they were cheap, weird, strange, with weird and strange heroes who scared the bejabbers out of the bad guys.

Many were created by Jews, but many were created by Gentiles.

Look at Gardner Fox: Hawkman and Hawkgirl, re-incarnated mystical warriors who fly. Sandman, with the powers of dreams to find murderers (and a WWI Gas Mask). Dr. Fate, with "Nabu's" mystical Egyptian helmet giving him magical superpowers. The Flash, with maybe mystical magic lightning making him superfast (faster than Superman).

Superman was Moses, but Moses already in the Promised Land. He just has to protect it. Captain Marvel (ancient Wizard gives him superpowers), and Wonder Woman (clay given life and powers by the Gods) were created by gentiles.

If you are going to create a weird and strange hero that appeals to boys, he's either going to be science based, or mystical. Not much news there. Heck, Siegel created the Spectre, and he's fairly creepy and powerful (as well as being dead). Deadman was created by a gentile, Arnold Drake.

Apologies if the other entry actually showed up and didn't get eaten by Blogger.

But the problem is basically too much money creating a need to appeal to wealthy hipsters, instead of masses of 9 year old boys wanting weird and wonderful tales, about a guy who has a magic ring, or is faster than anyone, or finds out he's a god, or has dreams about bad guys -- before they do bad stuff, or has a magic helmet, or gets really, really strong when he's ANGRY. That stuff was done, fast, cheap, and produced on average far more interesting and lasting and artful things than the hipster junk now.

Particularly Chabon's.

asdfasdfasdf said...

How come Yiddish is so funny sounding? Golem indeed. And words like Schmuck, schlong, gonif mamzer, schmiel, schvartze, shikse, and many others.

Did Jews come up with a funny sounding langauge because they are funny or what? And how did it affect Jewish culture and outlook?

I mean Golem sounds funny!!!

Hebrew isn't funny. German isn't funny. But Yiddish is funny.

Whiskey said...

Let me add, no one does "mystical" better than the Celts.

King Arthur? The Once and Future King? Robin Hood (recall the BBC production with overt paganism "the Hooded Man" and soundtrack by Clannad?) Yeats, and the rest. Indeed, in terms of sheer mysticism fueled by a beautiful, but unforgiving landscape, the Celts are probably only equaled by the Scandinavians. It's Arthur's magic sword, that ONLY he can pull out of the Stone. It's Siegfried, who alone can pull the sword out of the Bramstock Oak. Only THOR can hold Mjolnir, you must be worthy.

Wonder Woman is a golem. But being created by a horny, pervy WASP, she's a sex symbol of "liberation" (and bondage, at least for Moulston's original run). A reincarnated couple, over the ages, who fly around and bash people over the heads with maces?

Then there's the Medium/Ghost Whisperer stuff, deeply appealing to the female mystically inclined audience.

The deeply assimilated Jews who created pulp comic books to appeal to 9 year old boys craving two-fisted adventures, only weirder, mostly used science: Captain America, Superman, Batman for their heroes. When they did use mysticism it was just a device, to create powers. It might be a magic ring. Or the power of God's Vengeance.

Kavalier and Clay was dumb, because it was about being about ... original pulp guys who created characters kids still love today. Derivative and deconstructive. Watchmen was worse because it was a sour, mean guy trashing original characters created by men who merely tried to make a few bucks by creating characters kids loved. It's like making Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rodgers into child molesters. The equivalent of drawing a mustache on a minor but beloved painting.

Ozymandias, after all, was based on "Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt." A mystical, meditation-marital arts hero created by NYC Cop Pete Morisi. Who wasn't a big enough "name" to make Moore back off.

Chenis said...

"Heck, you're actually seeing lots of teenage girls dressed in sailor suits and blue hair at anime conventions. Even at conventional science fiction conventions you'll see packs of dorky-looking teenage girls. I'm actually convinced the rise of anime reflects Asians taking over nerd culture from Jews, but one of the people here can probably give a better opinion."

I've noticed this too. I went to one anime convention for a day back in the late 90s and got sick. I kinda got into anime for awhile because of Miyazaki films and the superb BGC(original OVA, not the remake TV series)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My8eQby_E0c

...and was eager to find other good titles, but the whole 'otaku' scene was icky to say the least. If you think girls in sailor suits are ridiculous, how about big fat hairy guys in them? Ewwwwwww.

I've noticed over the yrs that American kids seem to be splitting along many subcultures. Among white kids, the loud and brash ones go for black culture--hip hop and rap.
The quieter and geekier white kids go for Japanese culture centered around anime, manga, and even J-pop.
I've also noticed lots of Hispanics are into anime and manga, and I wonder if this is because many Mexicans have some ancient Asian blood that makes them feel naturally closer to 'cute' Asian stuff.

Anonymous said...

You should read Vasili Grossman's "Life and Fate", the War and Peace of the 20th century. Arguably both the greatest Jewish and the greatest Russian novel of the century

Recommendation strongly seconded. Of Soviet novels though, "Tikhyi Don" and "Master and Margarita" are significantly more important. And every European nation/culture has at least one Jewish novelist of comparable stature/quality.

---------

I haven't read them but Quiet Flows the Don is a great movie, and it's on DVD. I'm surprised a film so sympathetic to the Whites was made in USSR in the 1950s.

benny boy said...

"On another subject point: Steve may be obsessed with the idea that Ben Franklin lived a life of never-ending pleasure, but it is simply not true. Anyone who ends his life bitterly estranged from his own son (just read his will, for heaven's sake) has had at least one major failure in his life. He also felt underappreciated by his fellow Americans in general."

Maybe 'never ending fun' was to escape from the failures. Fun, like drink, is often used to drown something.

At any rate, some people take failure painfully, others just laugh at it.

Arnold said...

Frank Miller, the author of 300, spoke in an interview about the Jewish creation of a golem who strikes down the enemies of Zion:

"Comics can affect culture by allowing the world in, reflecting what we see. There is a reason, Miller says, that most of the great comics heroes were created by Jewish people that lived through the early part of the century. To a certain extent, they were creating a golem, a hero they needed to exist. Their comics were a response to the times they lived, something that comics have largely gotten away from and need to return if they’re going to be a significant voice in modern culture. …

The harsh truth is that we’re facing an enemy that keeps telling us what they are and what they want,” declared Miller, adding that people refuse to believe it. “They have made it plain they want to exterminate the Jews, to bring down the West, to achieve world dominion,” Miller warned, likening Islamic extremists to the Nazis in the 1930s. …

He pointed out that all of the major superheroes of the 1940s were created by Jews during a time of anti-Semitic persecution: “Superman was a golem.” … Miller nonetheless issued a call to his fellow authors: “Let’s revive our tradition and get back on the job.”

If you recall from the film, 300 appealed quite explicitly to racial instincts and impulses, with the Persians portrayed as very dark black Africans, mulattoes, Arabs, culturally Arab/Islamic (turbans, style of dress, etc.), homosexual, etc. When in reality they probably weren't that different from the Greeks in phenotype.

Whiskey said...

Let me add, Iron Man would win in a fight. Why?

Because he appeals to 12 year old boys. Who would want to BE Tony Stark, genius inventor who makes a suit of armor that can do almost anything.

Marvel's run in the 1960's was due to appealing to boomer kids with weird heroes that had huge appeal to kids, even more than DC's original line-up. The Hulk: a kid gets really, really angry and super-powerful (but not a bully or "bad"). A reworking of Jekyll and Hyde. Spider-Man, angsty HS teen with powers. Fantastic Four: a family of weird superheroes. Thor, he's a GOD. And so on. Almost all, science based.

What worked was immediately evident in sales figures. Weird, strange, exciting stuff designed first of all to get a kid to drop a quarter to buy the comic.

That's totally different from playing to fairly decadent hipsters.

A lot of mysticism today just comes from collapse of religions, from Marxism to Christianity to what have you. A desire to find "meaning" and an inability to find it in tradition anymore (for most people). Ghost Whisperer and Medium are grown-up superheroines for housewives, along with sexy vampires, or witches, or vampire slayers.

Joss Whedon's played mystical stuff as much as anyone in pop culture -- and he's not Jewish.

Anonymous said...

"I goofed. Meant Leibniz, not Spinoza. Spinoza wasn't even a polymath as far as I can tell."

I sometimes mistake lettuce for spinach myself.

adfadfasff said...

Jews have become so successful and mighty that they've become Kavalier about their power.

David said...

James Kabala said

>the golem seems more like a super-Jew than a Gentile.<

Yes. Superman is another example. Even traditional Golems were never regarded or presented as hypnotized Gentiles or converts.

Btw, do you really believe anyone warmed by a Franklin stove, for instance, would have considered Ben's intellect and work "amoral"? What is "amoral intellect"?

My schema is:
Franklin (the great majority of the time) = moral intellect
Feynman (at Los Alamos) = amoral intellect
Franklin (recommending smallpox blankets) = immoral intellect

(PS - I meant Podhoretz, not "Podheretz." Goyishe kop.)

Chenis said...

It's intersting that GOLEM sounds a bit like GENOM(pronounced Geh-Nom)in BGC, which is Japanese for 'genome'. GENOM is the name of the evil corporation that creates robots.
Of course, with the rise of bioengineering, genome will be the clay that scientists play with to create who knows what.

Anonymous said...

What with all the record busting comic book hero movies, Hollywood could be called the Golem Globe Trotters.

Anonymous said...

Joss Whedon's played mystical stuff as much as anyone in pop culture -- and he's not Jewish.

"he's not Jewish" - LOL.

I love how Whiskey always slips that in anytime Steve has a post like this.

You gotta give him credit for his persistence.

Luke Lea said...

"In economics, he anticipated Malthus by a half century, as Malthus later admitted." It is likely that several other forgotten writers did as well. The history of most important economic ideas is longer than is generally recognized. What Malthus did was put it on the map by dedicating a whole carefully reasoned book to the subject.

Vernunft said...

"The 20th Century Jewish solution was to blame this pre-1800 history of cultural isolation and lack of artistic and scientific productivity on gentile discrimination. Obviously, that played a role, but a fairer reading would be that much of it was self-inflicted."

lol

Silly Jews, starting pogroms against themselves.

Mustache said...

When you look at how the likes of William Kristol have picked, guided, and used the likes of Sarah Palin, it's like horse-and-pony show.

Ooooohh and here's a timely headline from Fox News:

Palin Stands By Fiorina Endorsement Amid Backlash From Supporters

Is she another puppet sent to betray her supporters on key issues? Sort of like Obama appointing Tim Geithner as the first act of his administration? Will the sheep figure it out before it's too late? Stay tuned.

I wonder if a future President Palin would object to single plank of the Neo Conservative platform. Hahaha. Just kidding. I don't need to wonder. She'll renominate the criminal Bernanke in a heartbeat and squash all inquiry into the elaborate machinery (Affirmative Action, Open Borders, Rotten Boroughs, Anchor Babies etc.) behind the radical transformation of America.

David said...

I say you're wrong on this one, Steve, for two reasons:

1) There has been a ton of Golem stuff produced over the years. Ever since I was a little Jewish kid looking desperately for Jews in popular culture (seriously, we might be bigger in Hollywood than gays, especially when it comes to business's heavy hitters, but while they love making movies and TV about themselves, we seem to shy away from it), I was usually disappointed -- but when I did encounter a story that featured some aspect of Jewish lore, what did I see? The Golem story. Batman fought a golem. THE X-FILES did a golem episode. Golems, golems, golems, possibly for the reason that until the Kabbalah Center started mining Jewish lore to exploit gullible celebrities, golems were the only Jewish mystical element anybody had ever heard of.

2) If Jews were really turning inward, you would see a lot more material being produced about a variety of aspects of Jewish culture. There are all sorts of interesting bits of Jewish lore that could be mined for stories. But writers aren't interested in telling Jewish stories, they're interested in telling stories about the Jewish self-image, because minority/immigrant self-image stories are all the rage these days to the point that folks who don't necessarily identify as minorities or immigrants are trying to get in on the action.

I maintain that this is one reason that Irish mob stories are so popular these days. Lots of white people think being ethnic is really cool, and kind of regret that they aren't. But -- the Irish! In Boston! They're ethnic! And white! So there are movies and stories about them. Dennis Lehane's novels are cases in point: they're dripping in vicarious Irishness, to the point that some of his more sympathetic characters will use racial slurs -- and it's okay, they stay sympathetic, because they're ethnic! They're Irish! Ethnic groups are permitted to have friction with other ethnic groups. (By contrast, if the characters were generic whites, such as Southern rednecks, the right-thinking white reader would be obliged to hate them, because they are not ethnic, and so are properly objects of scorn.)

James Kabala said...

Oh, I do respect and admire Franklin, who certainly thought of himself as a benefactor of mankind, but who valued knowledge for its own sake above all - and there's nothing wrong with that! Neither is there anything wrong with a Jewish scientist or doctor who thinks the same way. I was being sarcastic toward Udolpho.

Franklin wasn't amoral, but he valued morality in a mechanical way. In his autobiography he referred to even his most serious mistakes (leading on his first girlfriend, then going off to England and leaving her to marry another, only to end up in a common-law marriage with her after all when her first husband turned out to be a jerk and abandoned her; writing and publishing a book of ill-considered religious beliefs that he later repudiated; fathering an illegitimate child) with the printing term "errata." He also had his infamous system of trying to build his virtue by creating a list of thirteen virtues and working on one each week for a quarter-year - it sounds charming and it kind of is, but it also has a coldness to it.

James Kabala said...

Benny Boy: "Pleasure" was the wrong word on my part; I should have said "happiness."

tommy said...

Silly Jews, starting pogroms against themselves.

To be sure, the brusqueness and general unpleasantness of Jewish tax collectors and usurers was very endearing. But to the victors belong the spoils: the pogroms are remembered, and the religious bigotry of Christians is never forgotten. The deep-seated and religiously codified Jewish contempt for non-Jews has disappeared down the memory hole.

In our Judeophile society, the pre-modern Jew is always presented to us as having a character akin to a gentle-souled wife of a rabbi, and never like the smug, loud, obnoxiously self-satisfied Alan Graysons so common among modern American Jewry.

tommy said...

If Jews were really turning inward, you would see a lot more material being produced about a variety of aspects of Jewish culture.

Secular Jews often have a lot of contempt for their religious brethren, and it isn't the fundamentalists who are creating pop culture. It seems to me that celebrating golems and endlessly replaying the Holocaust are some of the few things that irreligious Jews can do without bringing up Judaism.

Like Steve said, the culture of the pre-modern Jew was pretty dull. It was also pious.

Anonymous said...

"Heck, you're actually seeing lots of teenage girls dressed in sailor suits and blue hair at anime conventions. Even at conventional science fiction conventions you'll see packs of dorky-looking teenage girls. I'm actually convinced the rise of anime reflects Asians taking over nerd culture from Jews, but one of the people here can probably give a better opinion."



Teenage girls indulging in dressing up? It must be part of some scheme by somebody to take over the culture!

On a serious note, the most undertold story of our time is the fact that video games have surpassed movies and music as definers of culture for the teen set. And Japan is the center of the video game world.

Anonymous said...

neocon senator goes down hard even after introduction at convention by wall street romney:

US Sen. Bob Bennett ousted at Utah GOP convention

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100508/ap_on_el_se/us_utah_senate/

ps looks like drudge is too busy trying to start a race war to post this headline.

Anonymous said...

Dennis Lehane's novels are cases in point: they're dripping in vicarious Irishness...

Lehane's from South Boston. What do you expect him to write about?

Henry Canaday said...

Thanks for the tip on "Life and Fate," I'll try it.

stari_momak said...

Lots of white people think being ethnic is really cool, and kind of regret that they aren't.

Everybody is 'ethnic'. Why do you think the 'blue collar comedy tour' is so successful, or NASCAR, or kuntry music.

On this gollem thing; isn't the a human creating a human-like thing a pretty common trope in mythology. Pygmallion anyone? That the greek myth has the creator making a beautiful woman and the Jewish myth has the creator making a mishapen man probably tells us something.

asdfadfasdf said...

I love Popeye most.

Udolpho.com said...

Jewish comedy generally rests on criticism and complaint (even the Marx brothers were mainly poking some stiff-necked gentile in the ribs). Compare Steve Martin, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Bill Murray, Bill Cosby, et al. (Of course there are exceptions and counterparts--don't bore me with a list.)

Jews have contributed a lot to comedy--but they have a hard time breaking out of their culture of critique. Jewishness is not a fundamentally carpe diem culture. Even when it seeks to entertain, it often sweats and cavils. Just accept the larger point rather than trying to defend your race from any suggestion they are imperfect. (A very Jewish trait, I might add.)

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

I would say this is tangential, but this thread, if not the whole blog, at least mentions ethnicity:

Defending (against) Elena Kagan's Minority Hiring Practices while Dean of Harvard Law

Come to think of it, this really should be grist for the local mill.

Fred said...

"Jews... have a hard time breaking out of their culture of critique."

Says the gentile as he critiques Jews. Seems like there's a culture of critique among you as well.

"Jewishness is not a fundamentally carpe diem culture."

So a Jew would never write something like Seize the Day, I guess?

"Even when it seeks to entertain, it often sweats and cavils."

This is why those Jewish Zionists never got around to founding Israel. They just sat around making misanthropic quips like Larry David until they lost all initiative.

Thank you for your incisive critique of our race.

Anonymous said...

Dad, you're not supposed to talk about the AP question until two weeks after the test.

Anonymous said...

And Japan is the center of the video game world.

was not is. The output to talent ratio is widely acclaimed to be horrible and even Japanese people complain about the infantilization and otakuization of their popular culture (look it up if you want) creating a Galapagos Effect where they can only work if established genres, cannot innovate and don't make sales outside Japan. The US is, love it or loathe it, think their mass market designs are clever or dumb, currently the centre of the video game world. Young people in Japan largely just don't buy videogames except for nerds. They're more interested in fashion and music and communications technology.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, self inflicted is quite harsh, but it's obvious that the rabbi centered intellectual life of the pre-Enlightenment Jews really has absolutely nothing to offer post-Enlightenment people or even had anything to contribute to the tradition that lead up to the Enlightenment.

It also had nothing to offer the Renaissance or just about any important movement in European or world history. It was a good tradition for keeping you smart, but it had no real systematic approach and was tied into an analysis of texts that required quite a torturous reading to actually get any kind of real philosophy out of them.

It's better for all Jews to actually realize this rather than fetishise it.

Contrarywise, it's quite worrying to see assertions from some Jewish persons to the effect that they were psychologically modern well before the Enlightenment and well before the modern age, as worrying as it is to see the same from Moslems, because barely anything could be more contrary to a true understanding of history. This corruption of history (although Western history is not perfectly accurate) may ultimately lead to a lack of understanding that could be quite damaging to all.

Jews too frequently think their emancipation was the freedom to be religiously Jewish communities as they "should have" been in the Middle Ages if they were tolerant. It was not. It was to be anything other than religiously Jewish in this fashion.

The Cunning Linguist said...

asdfasdfasdf - goniff, mamzer, and shikse are actually Hebrew words.

Chenis - Never thought about it 'til now, but the word "Genome" really does resemble "Gehenom," the Hebrew word for hell.

David Davenport said...

For reasons I can't explain, geek isn't the diametric opposite of chic it used to be.

Wrong. "Geek" and macho chic are still opposites. You are too geeky too admit or realize this.


...

Heck, you're actually seeing lots of teenage girls dressed in sailor suits and blue hair at anime conventions. Even at conventional science fiction conventions you'll see packs of dorky-looking teenage girls.

Dorky-looking instead of good-looking girls, right?
///////////////////////

You're looking at the wrong thing. Rather than Jews becoming anti-assimilation, the problem is wider and deeper.

Loss of pulp energy and "Cheap, Fast, and Out of Control" (apologies to Errol Morris). Rather than today's emphasis on being "arty" to appeal to five hipsters in a loft somewhere.


My hope is that that the kulchur Bolsheviks are becoming too arty and pretentious to sell well, leaving some space in the mass market for non-degenerate pop culture.


It seems to me that celebrating golems and endlessly replaying the Holocaust are some of the few things that irreligious Jews can do without bringing up Judaism.



Celebration of the Holocaust is a religious alternative to the Christian myth of the Crucifiction.

Udolpho.com said...

Laughing out loud at a Jew dumb enough to think the movie Seize the Day (terrible movie by the way) actually embodies the spirit of the phrase carpe diem. The movie is an ultra-dumb critique of gentile culture of its period, how can even you miss that?

But this is expected--Jews get so prickly at the suggestion that anything about their culture is lacking that they miss the point and instead waste their time on sciolistic arguments (look it up). Check out the discussion at http://www.mypostingcareer.com/forums/index.php?/topic/260-jewish-humor/ and see if you can master your peevishness enough to join in. (Based on your offering here, not likely.)

Anonymous said...

Whiskey: "Let me add, no one does "mystical" better than the Celts."

Tolkien suggested that the sensibility people call "celtic" isn't often found in the traditional celtic cultures.

Anonymous said...

Medieval Jewish intellectual life was no more boring, objectively, than Medieval Gentile intellectual life. In both cases, 99% of the mental firepower was concenrated on religion. If you believe that the religious thought is a waste of time, then the Middle Ages were quite useless. Or do you think only the Jewish religious thought is a waste of time?

Anyway, starting gradually from 1600, and especially after 1700, the Gentiles were discovering the joys and fun of goddless materialism. It's true that Jews were late for this particular party. But in their defense, the Jews had two very eventful centuries, the 17th and the 18th. These centuries, for Jews, were the opposite of boring (though not much fun).

James Kabala said...

Udolpho: Sorry, not Jewish.

The Polish surname Kabala (meaning "fortune teller," although that is about the last thing I can imagine any ancestor of mine having done for a living) is indeed meant to allude to the Kabbalah. I suppose the idea was that any professional soothsayer would be thought to have honed his craft by reading that source of ancient mysticism, which Polish Catholics would have been aware of due to Poland's large Jewish population. As far as I know, however, the name does not actually denote Jewish blood. I was just "critiquing" (if a Gentile can use that word) something that struck me as a strange statement.

Anonymous said...

"was not is. The output to talent ratio is widely acclaimed to be horrible and even Japanese people complain about the infantilization and otakuization of their popular culture (look it up if you want) creating a Galapagos Effect where they can only work if established genres, cannot innovate and don't make sales outside Japan. The US is, love it or loathe it, think their mass market designs are clever or dumb, currently the centre of the video game world. Young people in Japan largely just don't buy videogames except for nerds. They're more interested in fashion and music and communications technology."

Japanese people like different videogame genres than Americans. That explains the good:crap ratio considering there are thousands of mahjong videogames out there that really only appeal to East Asians, not Westerners. The otaku effect in Japanese videogames really only applies to games that pander to otakus and teenagers, it's not pervasive. I think you are wrong about the lack of innovation in Japan re: videogames. Many different genres originated there and continue to be developed further like survival horror and dating sims. America basically just has sports games, shooters and western rpgs. Japan also has some really creative arthouse games such as the ones done by Love-de-Lic that you would never see developed in America because they lack the explosions and violence that you see churned out by most American developers. And your statement that most young people in Japan don't buy videogames is crap. One in five Japanese own a Nintendo DS. And Japan develops certain games that appeal to the general audiences that sell well both in Japan and abroad like Mario and Final Fantasy.

"I've also noticed lots of Hispanics are into anime and manga, and I wonder if this is because many Mexicans have some ancient Asian blood that makes them feel naturally closer to 'cute' Asian stuff."

No, it's not that. It's just that most of the cartoons Mexicans saw while growing up tended to be anime. For a while, Mexico was getting more more anime than America.

tommy said...

Anonymous,

Contrarywise, it's quite worrying to see assertions from some Jewish persons to the effect that they were psychologically modern well before the Enlightenment and well before the modern age, as worrying as it is to see the same from Moslems, because barely anything could be more contrary to a true understanding of history. This corruption of history (although Western history is not perfectly accurate) may ultimately lead to a lack of understanding that could be quite damaging to all.

I agree entirely with everything you just wrote. Of course, not all the suffering endured by Jews during medieval times was the result of their own behavior. Very much was the result of religious prejudice, but the attitudes of Jews, which have their origins in halakha as much as social circumstance, could not have helped.

This revisionism that paints medieval Jews as enlightened martyrs rather than self-interested middlemen whose clannishness was as much the result of religion and self-interest as it was persecution is annoying. The truth is that Jews were hostile to the "ways of the goyim" dating as far back as the Talmud and probably earlier.

While times of persecution may have increased this hostility, there is no reason to believe the fundamental halakhic loathing of non-Jewish culture was mitigated even during times, like that of Charlemagne, when Jews were relatively free and privileged.

Mr. Anon said...

Henry Canaday said...

I am re-reading “War and Peace,” partly to avoid these third-derivative-of-reality modern novels. Of course, as in math, the third derivative can tell you something about reality. So we have a clever modern author writing about a couple of writers decades ago who were inspired by a fabulist of a couple centuries ago who created a story to deal with his realty. And this tells us, what? I think you have made a good start of it. But I am going back to Natasha and the rest of the Rostovs and Bolkonskys. As a conservative in an ever leftward-ratcheting age, I get a physical pleasure every time I read Kutuzov’s words, “Patience and time, Bolkonsky, I’ll make them eat horseflesh.”"

I generally agree with you. The modern conception of a novel seems to be a book about a writer writing a book about a writer writing a book....... I think this is due to the fact that most modern writers have only ever been writers. They have no practical experience of the world of affairs - the kind of experience that gives them something interesting to write about. Tolstoy was a military officer and a landowner. Conrad was a sea captain. Robert Graves and J.R.R. Tokien fought in the First World War.

However, Steve has peaked my interest in Chabon's book. The fact that Chabon, like Tom Wolfe, has critized modern literary fiction for being too story-less is a point in his favor. I'll have to give his book a try.

And the identification of Superman with the Golem legend is a clever idea (and probably correct). I've never liked comic books. I always did - and still do - consider them to be kidsstuff, not worthy of consideration by adults. And the very idea of "superheroes" I consider to be unamerican, and a childish form of magical thinking. It was therefore interesting to come to learn that a lot of comic-book superheroes were really just jewish revenge fantasies wrapped up in WASP packaging.

Incidentally, there is one mirror image to the jewish revenge fantasy I know of, although it was written as a clever literary conceit, not as a sincere expression of ethic pride or solidarity - Norman Spinrad's "The Iron Dream":

http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Dream-Norman-Spinrad/dp/1902002164

Which purports to be the last book written by a german immigrant named Adolph Hitler, who emigrates to America in 1919, and becomes a magazine illustrator and eventually a pulp science-fiction writer.

Anonymous said...

Hebrew isn't funny. German isn't funny. But Yiddish is funny.

German is quite funny to listen to, to my ears. (Especially when spoken in an angry tone of voice.) Oh, and all those examples you gave are of either German or Hebrew derivation, as is the case with most Yiddish vocabulary.

In our Judeophile society, the pre-modern Jew is always presented to us as having a character akin to a gentle-souled wife of a rabbi,

Um, what? I can think of a lot of obnoxious and negative portrayals of Jews, including some by Jewish authors and filmmakers. The notion that all portrayals of Jewish characters in pop culture are saintly is silly, and easily falsifiable.

Anonymous said...

I'd say Japan is still the video game capital of the world, even with the rise of American companies.

You point out Japan's signal to noise ratio; but the reason they produce so much crap is because they produce so much in general.

Most of what Hollywood produces is crap, but America is still seen as the movie country; even though the signal to noise ratio of other countries is much better than ours.

Anonymous said...

The US is, love it or loathe it, think their mass market designs are clever or dumb, currently the centre of the video game world.



The US is the worlds biggest market for video games. If that's your notion of being "the center of the video game world", fine.

But Japan is where the games come from, for the most part.

TH said...

Mary Shelley based "Frankenstein" on the Golem of Prague, which was a sixteenth century tale. There may not be written versions of it until later centuries, but Judaism has a longstanding oral tradition and the story always refers to a specific sixteenth century rabbi.

What is actually the evidence for the claim that Shelley based "Frankenstein" on the Golem story? While elements of the story may have existed in Jewish folklore for a long time, it seems possible that the Golem of Prague story was invented by Berthold Auerbach, who wrote about it in a 1837 novel, i.e. a couple of decades after "Frankenstein" was published. Might it be that it was Shelley's book that influenced the Golem of Prague story and not the other way around?

Recommendation strongly seconded. Of Soviet novels though, "Tikhyi Don" and "Master and Margarita" are significantly more important. And every European nation/culture has at least one Jewish novelist of comparable stature/quality.

Not true. Name them. There are many European languages with no notable Jewish authors.

TH said...

I have never quite understood the superhero genre, which has always dominated the American comics market. In my book, the greatest American comics artist by far is Carl Barks. Sadly, few Americans seem to remember him nowadays. In Europe, he is still highly regarded, and for many generations of Western Europeans his work must have had a great (positive) effect on their ideas of America. "The Simpsons" owes a debt to Barks, I think; Homer is very much like Barks's Donald Duck, for example. Barks was also clearly a conservative, and some of his stories hilariously eviscerate progressive ideas.

Noah said...

I don't get this post. Is this saying that smart Jews have been gradually replaced by dumb Jews?

If so, it's probably right. Regression to the mean, after all...

Anonymous said...

"Jewish comedy generally rests on criticism and complaint."

Nonsense on stilts. Jews do comedy well. If in any particular time and place the demand is for the comedy of complaining, then that's what will be produced. If not, then not.

In the USSR, the Jews were as prominent in comedy as they are here. Do you think they complained or criticized much?

Baloo said...

I enjoy many aspects of the superhero genre, but I agree with TH that Carl Barks was the great one, or rather one of the two great ones, the other being John Stanley:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stanley_(comics)

tommy said...

Um, what? I can think of a lot of obnoxious and negative portrayals of Jews, including some by Jewish authors and filmmakers. The notion that all portrayals of Jewish characters in pop culture are saintly is silly, and easily falsifiable.

You must have missed the keyword: pre-modern.

Enoch Powell Was Right said...

Steve has opened my eyes on a number of issues, but his readers are no slouches either (for the most part.)
Tommy, thank you for the links to the Jewish mom’s website where they are fretting about how their kindergarten age kids told some of their goy teachers that “when the Moshiach comes all the goyim will be killed or become our slaves.” A commenter complained that “it is not okay to write this in a thread that can be seen by anybody… you do not need a password to see this thread.”
Interested readers, look up the “Moshiach” stuff that the tribe is ostensibly forbidden to discuss in any public forum. Apparently it is a fundamental tenet of at least the Lubavitcher sect that all goyim will be killed or enslaved when Moshiach comes.
My goodness, what is wrong with these people?

adadfdafsaf said...

"Medieval Jewish intellectual life was no more boring, objectively, than Medieval Gentile intellectual life. In both cases, 99% of the mental firepower was concenrated on religion."

But Christians drew more pictures and sang more songs.

tommy said...

Um, what? I can think of a lot of obnoxious and negative portrayals of Jews, including some by Jewish authors and filmmakers. The notion that all portrayals of Jewish characters in pop culture are saintly is silly, and easily falsifiable.

You must have missed the keyword: pre-modern.

adsfasfasdf said...

"Anyway, starting gradually from 1600, and especially after 1700, the Gentiles were discovering the joys and fun of goddless materialism. It's true that Jews were late for this particular party."

Not when it came to finance.

asdfasdfadsff said...

"The modern conception of a novel seems to be a book about a writer writing a book about a writer writing a book......."

Either that or about going back to one's hometown and finding dark family or town secrets.

Udolpho.com said...

Fred, you're not even close to having a point. Feel free to take it up on my forum though. There's a link on Udolpho to the corresponding discussion.

Fred said...

Nice, Udolpho: a non-response combined with a plug for your own site. Stay classy.

afasfadsfasdfasf said...

In some ways, the superhero stuff created by Jews was a continuation of traditonal rabbinical Judaism. For the Jews the messiah never came, whereas for the Christians He did. Jesus is the superhero of the Christians, but that kind of super being--at least in human form--was missing in Jewish culture.

So, Talmudic scholars wonder when, why, and how God would send them their messiah to kick goy ass.
Secular Jews continued with this tradition partly through the creation of superhero comics in which various messiah figures come to make the world safe, which means safe for Jews too.

The difference between traditional Jews and modern secular Jews is that the former wished for a Jewish superhero to deliver Jews from stupid goyim whereas the latter created goy superheroes who generally did things that Jews favored. If you can't have the Jewish messiah, the next best thing is goy messiah who does the bidding of Jews.
Besides, if you want lots of fans for your comic books, it makes sense to appeal to as many people as possible.

So, old Jews wished for a strictly Jewish superhero messiah who fought for the Jews, and the new Jews dreamt up goy superhero messiahs who fought evil goy enemies of Jews.

Since Jews figured out no messiah is gonna come from the sky for Jews only, it made sense to create universal messiahs who would be Jew-friendly.

The whole Jesus thing didn't turn out too good for the Jews(as Christian Theology makes Jews out to be Lex Luthor or Penguin), but not so with Superman, the bone-crusher of the Nazis.

So, maybe the creation of comicbook superheroes was subconsciously a way to redress the lost opportunity for Jews when Jesus appeared 2000 yrs ago. Even if Jews had rejected Jesus, they should have treated Him nice and spin His message in a way as to suggest, "good gentile doesn't hurt Jews."

adfafasdfsf said...

"I don't get this post. Is this saying that smart Jews have been gradually replaced by dumb Jews?
If so, it's probably right. Regression to the mean, after all..."

No, it means Jews got smart about the world being full of dumb people, thus realizing you have to cleverly appeal to dummies to gain power.

Christianity can be intellectually demanding but it can be simple too. Even illiterate fools can understand "Jesus loves me, yes He does." So, Christianity(and Islam)spread like wildfire.
Since the Messiah already arrived and resolved all the problems, there wasn't really any need to think. Just have faith in the Messiah and that's about it. Jesus will take care of you if you're good. And in Islam, supposedly Muhammad the LAST PROPHET figured it all out. You just need to follow and not think too much.

But Judaism has no intellectually, spiritually, or historically--for all eternity--unifying figure. There is God, but He works in mYsTeRiOuS ways. Also, the many books in the Old Testament morally and theologically contradict one another. So, Jewish religious tradition came to stress thought and argument(and memory since one had to thoroughly know every line of the Bible to look and argue for that elusive truth. No wonder Jews make great lawyers.)

The thing is Judaism essentially became an elitist religion. Sure, there were illiterate, dumb, and unlearned Jews, but they had to rely on the priest caste, far more than Christians did. Even a dumb ignorant Christian without a priest could understand the gist of his Faith. Jesus is Son of God, He loves mankind, and there is Heaven for good folks.
For most Jews, Old Testament offered no single or simple truth. Thus, they relied on rabbis who were steeped in esoteric knowledge to explain things. (Since there were lots of rabbis, they all competed to outwit and outthink the other ones. It became a spiritual-intellectual scrabble or chess game. If Christian elites competed for who had greater faith, Jewish elites competed for who had greater wit, memory, and knowledge.) This sort of thing was bound to appear weird, secretive, conspiratorial, and even evil to outsiders.

For Jews to really gain power, they had appeal to and control the minds of goyim than just of the Jewish community. To control the minds of goyim, the new Jews had to think in terms of things with universal appeal. So, Marx gave us his brand of universal communism, and capitalist Jews gave us Hollywood and comic books.

Mr. Anon said...

Apropos of this whole topic is the old SNL "Uebermann" sketch:

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/78/78jwhatif.phtml

Udolpho.com said...

Fred, I don't think Steve is interested in hosting an off-topic discussion. Just take your courage in both hands and drop by (or don't, I'll be fine either way).

"Stay classy" in response to seeing someone mention another website suggests you're not very familiar with what class is.

The Cunning Linguist said...

asdfasdfasdf -Your characterization of what the Messiah's role in Judaism is patently absurd, and has no basis in reality.

"To kick goy ass?" Not even in the ballpark.

Anonymous said...

Steve -- check out this website with Dan Okrent among others. I feel this is ripe for sociological analysis.

http://oldjewstellingjokes.com

Amirite? said...

Udolpho wrote- "Just take your courage in both hands and drop by"


LOL! What is this, Aspie High Noon? This is too funny!!!

Simon said...

Elena Kagan nominated to Supreme Court - that makes:

Jews: 3
Catholics: 6
Protestants: 0

Anonymous said...

If you believe that the religious thought is a waste of time, then the Middle Ages were quite useless. Or do you think only the Jewish religious thought is a waste of time?

I certainly think that medieval theology was a waste of time or at least a backwater compared to Enlightenment philosophy. Certainly it is not currently obviously necessary to our civilization in any fashion and the Jewish intellectual life contributed very little to what is.

I find gentile thought in the Middle Ages to be perhaps somewhat less of an inefficient use of time because Christianity is to my view less obviously redundant with the Enlightenment project in an unflattering fashion, compared to more orthopraxic faiths like Rabbinical Judaism or Islam (even if it does not actually achieve anything, the concept of non-overlapping magisteria is far more relevant to Christianity than faiths which try to solve problems through super hardcore religious law - this is probably part of why there are actually meaningfully religious Christians who are reasonably functional but not meaningfully religious Jews).

Anonymous said...

But Japan is where the games come from, for the most part.

The US is the biggest market and buys and is generally more interested in domestic than Japan+US buys Japanese. And the European market prefers American stuff as well (though are more split). That's really the way it is.

Look, hey, all of you guys, I skipped out on videogames when Playstation 2 was big, so this is all second hand and somewhat unintuitive from me as well. I liked videogames and was happy with videogames plenty when they were Japanese, so I don't have any nationalistic schtick here.

But this is what every videogame trade magazine says and if you go to any videogame website they will tell you this. This is what Japanese designers and journos are saying when they are reported in Western media (even the great Miyamoto has said things along these lines). The story of the mid to lates 2000s is Japan becoming less and less relevant in terms of sales. Asians still make cutting edge games (if that's your bugbear for whatever reason, azn pryd! or whatever), but they're to a far greater extent Asian Americans working in the US with other Americans. This is the orthodoxy and it might be false, but you guys are certainly arguing against the current orthodoxy.

Now, although I have said this, there is truth in the statement that Japan still makes the games, in that Nintendo is the biggest seller and that Nintendo bucks this trend. Basically, the only thing in Japan that matters, really matters, is Nintendo and yeah, hell it matters but there's a difference between Nintendo and the video games market.

But crucially true, for the purpose of the argument that I was originally countering, is that Nintendo is certainly not anime aligned or a medium for Japanese popular culture - they are universally appealing by design and don't really even try to express Japanese culture in any fashion. A minority of folks in the US and the West generally are really into Japanese stuff, yah, but they are a minority. Videogames of Japanese origin, post-90s, really don't have much cultural power at all.

I mean, guys, Japanese culture is hella appealing if you are a somewhat repressed and socially awkward but intelligent person who idealizes skilled handicraft and loves all that ganbare spirit stuff and longs for the comfortable stultification of Japanese suburbia (that is, you are essentially temperamentally Japanese anyway) but it really isn't something that will ever appeal that widely to Americans, assuming demographics don't go crazy Asian or anything.

David said...

>starting gradually from 1600, and especially after 1700, the Gentiles were discovering the joys and fun of goddless [sic]materialism<

Nonsense. Read Chaucer.

Anonymous said...

Re: Jewish writers creating WASP superheros


http://misedjj.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/the-west-wing-cast-7083681.jpg

ben tillman said...

Anyway, starting gradually from 1600, and especially after 1700, the Gentiles were discovering the joys and fun of goddless materialism. It's true that Jews were late for this particular party....

Actually, the Jews of Amsterdam were the first to arrive at the party.

headache said...

Simon sed:Elena Kagan nominated to Supreme Court - that makes:

Jews: 3
Catholics: 6
Protestants: 0


This idea that the Supreme Court is somehow non-biased struck me, as an ex-South African, as wishful thinking. In South Africa the Supreme Court, or whatever it is called nowadays, was always a tool of higher politics, kinda like a rubber stamp. Even in modern Germany, which is supposed to be democratic, it’s the case, just see how easily they brushed off an obviously legit case against the financial bailout of Greece. They just go along with the pols who decide their tenure.
Basically whoever controls the switch can decide what he wants. In Africa it’s crasser than say Europe or the US, but the principle is the same. That’s why it’s so stupid for whites to think that they can let others run politics and thus the military and somehow things will be OK for them.

Anonymous said...

Videogames of Japanese origin, post-90s, really don't have much cultural power at all.



Cultural power is a hard thing to measure. Resident Evil? Final Fantasy? What American produced game has more cultural power?

Two of the big three console makers are Japanese - Sony and Nintendo. Game developers are an international bunch, no one country has a lock in that area.

adfadsfasf said...

asdfasdfasdf -Your characterization of what the Messiah's role in Judaism is patently absurd, and has no basis in reality.

"To kick goy ass?" Not even in the ballpark.


Didn't Jews want a messiah to arrive to kick Roman arse?

The Enumerator said...

"Elena Kagan nominated to Supreme Court - that makes:

Jews: 3
Catholics: 6
Protestants: 0"

I wonder if that's because the right is afraid a mainline Protestant will turn out to be a Souter and moderates and liberals think evangelicals don't have the brainpower.

James said...

David writes: '"starting gradually from 1600, and especially after 1700, the Gentiles were discovering the joys and fun of goddless [sic]materialism". Nonsense. Read Chaucer.

++++++++++++

Chaucer a godless materialist? Really? Saying Chaucer is godless is almost like saying that Bach and Handel were godless. The mere fact that the Canterbury Tales have Dirty Bits is hardly an indication that Chaucer was some sort of 14th-century Richard Dawkins.

Anonymous said...

"Basically, the only thing in Japan that matters, really matters, is Nintendo and yeah, hell it matters but there's a difference between Nintendo and the video games market."

What kind of bullshit is this? Only Nintendo matters? Are you freaking serious? Japan and the world in general go crazy for franchises that have been exclusive to Sony like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid.

Listen bud, American companies are the king of PC gaming but it's been like that for a long time. With the rise of the Xbox, which is basically a console version of the PC, you see a lot more American companies getting in on the action because not everyone has a super powerful computer that can play the latest games. The only games most people use their computers for these days are WoW and FarmVille.

American videogame companies have a good marketshare but they are not #1, at least not yet. Jesus, the top 8 Wii games have sold more than any 360 game, including Halo 3 which sold over 8.1 million copies. I already explained in a long post how most American vg companies are consigned to three genres whereas there are limitless genres for their Japanese competitors.

"The US is the biggest market and buys and is generally more interested in domestic than Japan+US buys Japanese. And the European market prefers American stuff as well (though are more split). That's really the way it is."

And this really doesn't matter. The videogame market is international now, Japan can afford to release a game and if it flops in the American market, it's not a big deal. They can make up for the slack if it sells well enough in Japan, Asia, and Europe. That was not the case in the mid 90's. If they knew a game wouldn't appeal at all to Americans, they wouldn't even bother to translate it in English and now they can release some very niche games in English and not worry about the sales as much.

"I mean, guys, Japanese culture is hella appealing if you are a somewhat repressed and socially awkward but intelligent person who idealizes skilled handicraft and loves all that ganbare spirit stuff and longs for the comfortable stultification of Japanese suburbia (that is, you are essentially temperamentally Japanese anyway) but it really isn't something that will ever appeal that widely to Americans, assuming demographics don't go crazy Asian or anything."

Again, you only find this sort of content in games that are aimed at Japanese teenagers and otakus. Jesus, most Japanese videogames are not animu lovefests.

Anonymous said...

"Didn't Jews want a messiah to arrive to kick Roman arse?"

Umm...you are mistaking nationalist fervor during the Second Temple period for the Jewish Messiah's true purpose. The Jewish Messiah was not sent to punish Gentiles for mistreating Jews but rather to punish Jews for being bad Jews.

Anonymous said...

"liberals think evangelicals don't have the brainpower"


...correctly.

Intellectually impressive evangelicals are as common in contemporary America as homosexual, Catholic Brtis employed as conservative pundits (i.e. extant but rare).

TH said...

Medieval Jewish intellectual life was no more boring, objectively, than Medieval Gentile intellectual life. In both cases, 99% of the mental firepower was concenrated on religion. If you believe that the religious thought is a waste of time, then the Middle Ages were quite useless. Or do you think only the Jewish religious thought is a waste of time?

That's not true. Plenty of great art, architecture, music, and also secular literature were created by Christians in medieval Europe.

Actually, the Jews of Amsterdam were the first to arrive at the party.

How so? Didn't they excommunicate Spinoza for heresy?

ben tillman said...

"Actually, the Jews of Amsterdam were the first to arrive at the party."

How so? Didn't they excommunicate Spinoza for heresy?


Aren't those throwing the party usually the first to arrive? Two Jewish academics in England (Jonathan Israel and Adam Sutcliffe) have recently done groundbreaking work exloring the origins of the Enlightenment in the Jewish community of Amsterdam. I recommend their books generally, but if you want something you can look at online, here's one:
Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment

Look at the excerpts from Richard Popkin's essay beginning on page 159.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a JEW and I feel that this is OFFENSIVE. You're ARGUMENT is based on RACISM OKAY. These are all just STEROETYPES that YOU GUYS are making.

If JEWS really controlled the WORLD then why did the holocaust HAPPEN?



JERKS!

asasfasfsdf said...

Mary Shelley based "Frankenstein" on the Golem of Prague, which was a sixteenth century tale. There may not be written versions of it until later centuries, but Judaism has a longstanding oral tradition and the story always refers to a specific sixteenth century rabbi.

What is actually the evidence for the claim that Shelley based "Frankenstein" on the Golem story? While elements of the story may have existed in Jewish folklore for a long time, it seems possible that the Golem of Prague story was invented by Berthold Auerbach, who wrote about it in a 1837 novel, i.e. a couple of decades after "Frankenstein" was published. Might it be that it was Shelley's book that influenced the Golem of Prague story and not the other way around?

So, is YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN based on Golem or Shelley's book?

David said...

James,

My argument was not over whether anyone professed disbelief in God, but instead only over whether the profane and materialism were historically prevalent and culturally influential beginning only in the 1700s, as you claimed. Chaucer understood the joys of the profane material world and publicly celebrated them to acclaim long before your proposed dates. The notion that everybody was a monk (or simply a devout Christian) until 1700 is false.

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