Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Individual as Art

The post delves into the Art of Manliness Podcast #480, Hiking with Nietzsche:

The podcast interviews John Kaag, a professor of philosophy, on his book Hiking with Nietzsche.

Here is a good article on this subject by Atlantic Magazine:

How to Live Better, According to Nietzsche

Here is a brief talk given by John Kaag on the subject

American Pragmatists

Nietzsche was heavily influenced by the American pragmatic philosophical school that believed that ideas should be judged on their practicality, their ability to positively impact daily life.

Life, A Poetic Art

Nietzsche was in search of how to live a life of meaning and significance in a world that losing traditional structures had answered this question like religion, family and politics. He was attempting to create a philosophy in the absence of traditions.

Unlike traditional philosophers, Nietzsche did not strictly focus on rational dialogue because he believed that humans were irrational, beings that operated on an aesthetic.  His philosophy was one of a poet that treated life like an artistic work one that had a perfect blend of both the rational and irrational sides of our nature.

Apollonian and Dionysian Dichotomy

Here is a good summary of the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy that Nietzsche believed animated us and was the component of all great art:

Apollonian and Dionysian

Nietzsche believed that the best societies balanced of these two forces.

Being a Romantic in an Enlightened Age

Nietzsche was not only heavily influence by the American pragmatists but also by the American author Ralph Waldo Emerson particularly his questioning of convention and determination to exert his individuality in creative ways.

Here is a lecture on the topic:

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Sense of Humor is No Laughing Matter

The No Agenda Podcast mentioned this startling observation made by Scott Adams the other day:

My best estimate is that about a third of the public don’t possess the capacity to even recognize humor when they see it. But they pretend they do, for social reasons. - Scott Adams

Scott Adam's Blog - People Who Can’t Recognize Humor (literally)

So sad but true. We live in a world devoid of much humor, lead by joyless people who do a poor job faking that they get it.

It got me thinking about the importance of humor and how little we understand it.

Elements of Humor

The American Psychological Association - The Jokes on You

For a child, getting a joke is a several step process:
  1. They need to observe an action/behavior that deviates from the norm.
  2. That happens intentionally often via play acting.
  3. Where the audience knows that the performer is playing
As one gets older, humor simply needs to involve something that deviates from the norm.

Romeo, the Comedian

If one believes in Darwin then humor must solve some evolutionary purpose.

The Scientific American - The Humor Gap

Some scientists believe that humor is used to signal a potential female mate of a males intellect.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Anti-Social Media

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask. 
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it. 
Zuck: I don't know why. 
Zuck: They "trust me" 
Zuck: Dumb fucks.
-Instant message attributed to Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook

This post is based on the below podcast:

Art of Manliness: Podcast #479: Becoming a Digital Minimalist

The podcast contains an interview with Cal Newport who wrote this book:

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Here is a Ted Talk that Cal gave on Quitting Social Media:

Roots of Tech Addiction

Cal credits NYU researcher, Adam Atler, for much early research on Social Media:

Google Whistle Blower

Tristan Harris is also mentioned as a tech insider who blew the whistle on questionable practices that big tech companies use to hijack our attention:

Addiction Pandemic

Widespread addiction to tech gadgets is relatively recent. For example, the original Smart Phone, the iPhone, was mainly intended to be a great phone and MP3 player with internet browsing coming in a distant third. It did not even come with an App Store.

https://thenextweb.com - The original iPhone announcement annotated: Steve Jobs’ genius meets Genius

It was social media apps that soon spread on these devices that started getting people glued to their devices as a means to generate more income for themselves. They did this by adding features that compelled users to constantly check these apps. They learned psychological gimmicks from psychology used by other industries like gambling to hijack users attentions. The gimmicks included features such as:

  • The like button
  • Auto-Notifications
  • Photo Auto-tags 
  • Systems of intermittent reinforcement

Social Approval Indicators

Many of these features relied on the pleasure we derive when others think positively about us. Humans have evolved to be social animals with large portions of our brain devoted to this. Social media is playing a dangerous game manipulating these brain centers for profit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Helter Skelter, A Reappraisal

“I didn’t do what they say I did. I know what I did. God knows what I did. And what makes me so mad about it is that I don’t have any god damn thought in that circle at all. That’s not me. I’m not this fucking clown that you guys play-acted in this god damn Helter Skelter shit.” -Charles Manson

This post is based on Neil Sander's reexamination of the Manson Family murders.

Neil hosts this interesting web site:

He undertakes his reexamination of the murders in his book:

This post summarizes points raised about the book based on this excellent interview:

Prevailing Narratives

Until now, there have been three prevailing narratives concerning the Manson Family murders:

#1 Bugliosi Narrative

Vincent Bugliosi was the District Attorney in Los Angeles who prosecuted Manson for the Murders. His case against Mason is featured in his best selling novel that was later made into a popular TV Movie:

In his book, Bugliosi portrays Manson as a cult leader who instigated the murders in the hopes of sparking a race war.

#2 Satanic Cult

This theory was proposed by Ed McGowen in his book:

goodreads.com -.The Family by Ed Sanders

This theory proposed that a Scientology offshoot, the Process Church of the Final Judgement, inspired Manson to order his followers commit the murders.

Other books later expanded this theory of the Process Church being a satanic cult that was not only behind the Mason murders but also the Zodiac and Son of Sam murders. Notable among these books is linked below:

The Ultimate Evil by Maury Terry

Here is a good article outlining possible connections Manson had with the Process Church:

www.paranoiamagazine.com - The Process Church of the Final Judgment and the Manson Family

#3 CIA Black Operation

This theory posits that the Manson family murders were some sort of CIA black ops meant to discredit the you movement.
A New Murder Narrative

 New theories started to emerge about Manson family murders starting with with William Scanlan Murphy. Murphy was a session musician for the Beach Boys. Shortly before he died, Dennis Wilson, the Beach Boys' drummer, who was once a close associate of Manson, told Murphy that he knew that Manson was not involved in the murders. This sent Murphy off on a quest to document what really happened.

Charlie didn't do it. Manson might have been the man who killed the 60s, but he certainly wasn't the man behind the murder of Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski, and her movieland friends at the starlet's LA mansion on August8, 1969.You can forget about cults, Helter Skelter and the revolution. The Tate murders were just a heist gone wrong- a game attempt by a rag-tag bunch of aspiring criminal high-rollers to take on the Mafia for a slice of its Hollywood drugs market.

A similar narrative has also been put out by Nikolas Shrek who spent over twenty years extensively studying this case, in his book:

Here is a good overview of this work:

...Hollywood Babylon

Hollywood was/is a company town, one that fiercely protected its reputation. A town that employed fixers like Eddie Mannix to sweep dirt under the rug. It is speculated that police disavowed connection between murders to avoid bad publicity.

Manson was well known around town and not particularly feared. For example, the famous actress, Angela Landsbury, even gave her young daughter a note permitting her to live with Manson:

https://www.nytimes.com - How Manson Almost Made It in Hollywood

...Manson, the Musician

Manson had also made some deep connections within the music industry:

www.theatlantic.com - The Real Cult of Charles Manson

Before the murders, Manson was known to and associated with some of the elite in the music and entertainment industry.

...Ongoing Party in Hollywood

There was a dark party scene in Hollywood fueled by drugs and elicit sex.that included some of the victims of the Manson family.

Rumored participants include Warren Beatty, Dennis Wilson, Terry Melcher, Mama Cass, Voytek Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Peter Sellers, Yul Brynner.

...Cover Up

Hollywood has always been a prime business for the Mob:

www.vice.com - This Guy Infiltrated Hollywood for the Mob and Pulled Off a Major Scam

Its murky accounting and loose cash provided plenty of opportunities for money laundering and the towns loose moral provided a ready market for some of its big money makers like drugs and prostitution.

Two of the Manson family victims at Cielo Drive were rumored to be major Los Angeles drug dealers. One of these, Voytek Frykowsk supposedly angered the mob by trying to elbow his way into the market.

In any case, the mafia would have had plenty off reason to hush up any connections the murder may have had to do with a drug deal gone bad.

Prosaic but True...

Rather than being a satanic cult leader brainwashing his followers to commit murder, the truth may be a bit more prosaic. Perhaps, the murder was simply part of a petty drug war.

Manson was a career criminal who made his money pimping, drug dealing and car chopping. His associates in crime were primarily the biker gangs that he hung out with. His girls were pimped out.

...a Curious Race War

Bugliosi prosecution narrative said the murders were supposed to spark a race war.

One piece of evidence for this was the swastika Manson carved into his forehead at his trial. The problem is that Manson actually meant this to be a Hindu sign but accidentally carved it backwards which inadvertently turned it into a Nazi sign. It was a mistake that he later corrected. Manson was said to have gotten the idea from an American Indian who used this "Sun Wheel" symbol to ward off the evil white me.

Actually, the Swastika Manson painfully tattooed onto his brow was not an evocation of Nazism but rooted in the ancient history of the symbol as a sign of good fortune that dates back perhaps thousands of years to Hindu and numerous other early cultures.

...Manson Family Rejects

The main witnesses against Manson were on the outs with him at the time of the murdersL
Susan Atkins
Paul Watkins

...Fairy Tales

Watkins borrowed the murder narrative from a book.

The Manson cult leader myth was borrowed from Christian Venta cult in Box Canyon near the Spahn Ranch:

...Broken Toys

Manson did not have to use mind sophisticated techniques on his followers. They were mainly young girls that came from troubled homes and were often molested by their real family. Manson offered them some stability and validation. He was a pimp who groomed them for prostitution not to murder.

...Mob Ties

Susan Atkins one of the main witnesses was represented by a mob lawyer:

The myth of Manson’s brainwashing was first spread by Atkins, who had a well-known mafia lawyer, Richard Caballero. Schreck believes the financially “poor hippie girl” was given mafia representation to protect the mafia-drug ties that were the real reasons for the murders, a drug robbery that turned violent

...Dessert Smuggler

Were the dune buggies collected by Manson used for searching for hole in dessert or really used for drug smuggling in the dessert.

...The Black Book

The La Bianca murder motives are less clear than the Cielo Murders.

http://www.mansonblog.com - Thoughts on the LaBiancas and the motive on August 10th

This link briefly talks about a mafia black book being the possible motive:

Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture by Paul Krassner

Sunday, February 3, 2019

French New Wave Cinema: The Fire Within

“There’s no reason to live, but there’s no reason to die, either. The only way we can still show our contempt for life is to accept it. Life is not worth the bother of leaving it. Out of charity, one might spare a few individuals the trouble of living, but what about oneself? Despair, indifference, betrayal, fidelity, solitude, the family, freedom, weight, money, poverty, love, absence of love, syphilis, health, sleep, insomnia, desire, impotence, platitudes, art, honesty, dishonor, mediocrity, intelligence – nothing there to make a fuss about. We know only too well what those things are made of, no point in watching for them.”
Jacques Rigaut

Louis Mallet's the Fire Within is a based on a Drieu De La Rochelle book about a Surrealist (DaDaist) poet, Jacques Rigaut who commits suicide in 1928.

Louis Mallet's is influenced by and utilizes some impressive techniques in a masterful fashion,  making the Fire Within a classic of the French New Wave era:

Bressonian Influence

Bresson +‎ -ian
Bressonian (comparative more Bressonian, superlative most Bressonian)
Of or pertaining to Robert Bresson (1901–1999), French film director.

Robert Bresson's film are characterized by a "less is more" economy, a minimalist approach.

Examples of Bresson's influence include the casting of Maurice Ronet as the main character. Ronet was an not an actor at the time, although he went on to a distinguished career, but did suffer from many of the issues, like alcoholism, as the character he portrayed in the film.

The Mancuto Collective - The Actors of Robert Bresson

One of the most remarkable aspects of Robert Bresson's films is that they're able to move the audience in a very particular way even though most of them were shot with non-professional actors. 

Here is an interview with Ronet about the film:

Another example of Bresson's influence on the minimalist musical score provided by Satie. Erik Satie was a composer at the turn of the last century who was associated with the movements (Minimalism, Surrealism, Dadaism) that inspired Drieu De La Rochelle's original novel.

Here is a documentary about Satie:

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Racine and the Classical Unities

Louis Mallet's works mostly take place within a tight structure of time, place and action influenced by the early French playwright Racine. Racine was in turn influenced by the early Greek Aristotelian Unities:


The classical unities, Aristotelian unities, or three unities are rules for drama derived from a passage in Aristotle's Poetics. In their neoclassical form they are as follows:

  1. unity of action: a play should have one action that it follows, with minimal subplots.
  2. unity of time: the action in a play should occur over a period of no more than 24 hours.
  3. unity of place: a play should exist in a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.