Trump Continues the Never-Ending Opium War in Afghanistan

08/26/201751 Comments

For all those pundits out there who were concerned that Trump wasn't "presidential" enough to actually be President, I have some great news for you! This past week Trump wiped out any such fear by doing the most presidential thing that can possibly be imagined: continuing the never-ending war in Afghanistan!

That's right, the longest war in the history of the United States is not coming to an end any time soon. And just in case you were still operating under the delusion that the current puppet figurehead was any different at all from any of the stuffed shirts who previously occupied the Oval Office, Trump is even copying Obama's failed 2009 "surge" strategy to keep the whole charade going for another four (or eight or 12 or 200) years.

As Mark Perry notes in his article on the subject, quoting an unnamed Pentagon official who was privy to the deliberations on the plan:

“This Trump plan, at least so far as I understand it, sounds a lot like the kind of plan we’ve come up with again and again since the end of World War Two,” a senior Pentagon officer says. “We’re going to surge troops, reform the government we support and put pressure on our allies. In this building [the Pentagon] there’s a hell of a lot of skepticism. And that’s because we all know what this new strategy really means – and what it means is that the only way we can get out of Afghanistan is to get further in. You know, it seems to me that if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that that doesn’t work.”

Bah! Work shmirk. The point is that copying Obama's failed "surge" strategy will look aggressive and manly and will pump even more of that Fed-issued fiat debt paper into the pockets of the Pentagon and their contractor buddies, so now Trump is officially "presidential" according to all the neocons on the right and the warmongers on the left.

Learn more about Trump's warmongering and how it relates to his administration's new "war on drugs" push in this week's subscriber-only editorial. Also, sign in for the month's subscriber-only video and James' recommended reading and viewing.

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Comments (51)

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  1. n4x5 says:

    Oregon has recently taken steps to decriminalize “hard” drugs:
    As the article mentions, this is not an unprecedented move. Portugal decriminalized several years ago, with good results.

    The opioid epidemic currently gripping the United States owes much of its high mortality rate to the availability of extremely potent synthetic prescription drugs (e.g. fentanyl, carfentanyl) now being used instead of heroin by addicts / being substituted for heroin by distributors. I wonder to what extent use of these newer drugs is impacting the demand for “traditional” poppy-based opiates like heroin. If anyone has any information on this, I’d be interested to see it.

    My humble literature recommendations: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Not terribly long or complex, but definitely one of my favorites. James mentioned Joseph Conrad. Things Fall Apart makes an interesting companion to Heart of Darkness, dealing with similar subject matter from a different viewpoint. Also Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. Also fairly short, just a compelling story, beautifully written.

    • PeaceFroggs says:

      Decriminalizing “hard” drugs is a good first step. I believe all drugs should be legal and controlled by government(s), much like tobacco and alcohol, and now marijuana in many states and countries around the world.

      This way, at least people know exactly what they are putting in their bodies. Taxes go towards reducing health care cost, or other social services, and it means less untraceable cash for the Black Ops boys that use the illicit drug trade to help fund the overthrow of foreign governments.

      • arnieus says:

        There is no constitutional justification for the Feds to make anything illegal. I would love to defund the CIA.

  2. wingsuitfreak says:

    Luckily he’s going to get right on all that fixing our school system and the rest of the infrastructure. Yeah right. I remember some reporter sticking her mike in my face (How rude!) and asking me if I was going to vote for Obama or Romney. I replied with “What’s the difference?” She got visibly upset over that one, the cognitive dissonance was strong in her! Funny how statists believe the solution to keeping the criminals off the street is putting them in positions of power. Life: The ultimate comedy channel

  3. mrbloom says:

    One of my favorite books, James, is “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abby.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:


      A toast to the writers!

    • HomeRemedySupply says:

      Edward Abbey died on March 14, 1989, at the age of 62.
      Abbey left instructions on what to do with his remains:

      Abbey wanted his body transported in the bed of a pickup truck, and wished to be buried as soon as possible. He did not want to be embalmed or placed in a coffin. Instead, he preferred to be placed inside of an old sleeping bag, and requested that his friends disregard all state laws concerning burial.

      “I want my body to help fertilize the growth of a cactus or cliff rose or sagebrush or tree.” said the message. For his funeral, Abbey stated “No formal speeches desired, though the deceased will not interfere if someone feels the urge. But keep it all simple and brief.” He requested gunfire and bagpipe music, a cheerful and raucous wake, “and a flood of beer and booze! Lots of singing, dancing, talking, hollering, laughing, and lovemaking.”

  4. scpat says:

    “The Spoils of War: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade
    Washington’s Hidden Agenda: Restore the Drug Trade”

    From Article:

    Who is protecting opium exports out of Afghanistan?

    In 2000-2001, “the Taliban government –in collaboration with the United Nations– had imposed a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. In fact the surge in opium cultivation production coincided with the onslaught of the US-led military operation and the downfall of the Taliban regime. From October through December 2001, farmers started to replant poppy on an extensive basis.”

    According to the YNODC:

    “Opium production in Afghanistan rose by 43 per cent to 4,800 metric tons in 2016 compared with 2015 levels, according to the latest Afghanistan Opium Survey figures released today by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UNODC. The area under opium poppy cultivation also increased to 201,000 hectares (ha) in 2016, a rise of 10 per cent compared with 183,000 ha in 2015.

    This represents a twentyfold increase in the areas under opium cultivation since the US invasion in October 2001. In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4800 tons in 2016.

  5. scpat says:

    Corbett Report Extras – The CIA & the Drug Trade

  6. whaugen says:

    James, this I guess is a little off topic but some young reader books that I enjoyed growing up were the Jenny books by Esther Averill. Jenny is a cat that has adventures, my favorite was Jenny Goes to Sea.

    On the literary front I think you are much more well read than I but a couple of books I have enjoyed are The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain and Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence [of Arabia].

    • The Dealey Lama says:

      Mark Twain is great. My favorite Mark Twain book is “Puddin’ Head Wilson”. Have you read that one whaugen?

      • whaugen says:

        Haven’t read that one. I have read three other books by Mark Twain and enjoyed them all; Life on the Mississippi, Roughing It and The Autobiography of Mark Twain.

        • The Dealey Lama says:

          Those are all great reads. Roughing it is a great documentary, and his autobiography is hilarious. Mark Twain is the greatest if you are sick of the politically correct.

  7. HomeRemedySupply says:

    “I’m planning to be a writer. Do you have any advice on where I could start out?”

    • The Dealey Lama says:

      Are you Joe Bob Briggs HomeRemedySupply?

      • HomeRemedySupply says:

        I’m not a writer.
        I just type.

        But I well remember the Drive-in days. Hot dates with steamed windows or sneaking in via the trunk of the car with beer and friends.
        And I definitely remember reading Joe Bob Briggs back in his early days, when his articles would appear in some of the local Dallas-Ft Worth print rags.
        He broke ground with a new style. It was a bold move for the era.
        At times, he made some profound points by poking fun at anyone and everyone, including himself.

        My wife likes “True Crime” books.
        She told me about a well-researched one that she really liked, then come to find out Joe Bob wrote it.

        Those early articles would REALLY upset some of the folks in the “New Left” now. And the “New Right” too.

    • wingsuitfreak says:

      Amazon affiliate program. However, it relies heavily on your marketing. What I would do is visit all the people you know, the websites you frequent (that are relevant to the book), and so on, (all this just before the book is published. Self-publishing is not only faster, you know it will be published)and pump up your book. You can publish in hardback and e-book. I would contact them as soon as you can so that you can get their newsletter they send out. It has a lot of helpful tips. What’s the subject?

      • HomeRemedySupply says:

        I don’t plan to be a writer, but I admire the hell out of ’em.
        Actually, I was pointing to an article which gives some talking points about writing.
        It’s a good read.
        ARTICLE Write Everyday

        • wingsuitfreak says:

          Okay. I did write a book once, but I never published it. That wasn’t the point of it for me. My goal had always been to write one and so I did. I didn’t care about the rest of it. It’s fun, but the editing process was brutal! Just because I’m not going to publish it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do a good job! I know, I’m odd. Jim, who also likes writing limericks while outrunning zombies playing guitars.

  8. Not This Little Frog says:

    Hola Sr. James et al,

    Any book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is worthy of consideration. Including Chronicle of a Death Foretold
    Mario Benedetti has written some good stories as well including one that is titiled La Tregua in Spanish possibly the truce.
    I’ve got some other authors rattling around in my head that I will include later.

  9. HomeRemedySupply says:

    By the way, those opening lines which James Corbett read.
    That is writing.
    Wow man!

  10. nosoapradio says:

    I’ve always wanted to be able to write.

    The problem is I’ve got nothing to say that hasn’t already been better said than I could ever say it…

    a lack of intellectual and cultural tools…

    I don’t even read anymore… though… since at least the last Corbett Report “is AI hype?” thread I bitterly regret it.

    As a child I read profusely (children’s stuff: Watership Down, Harriet the Spy, Narnia series, JRR Tolkien) along with Asimov’s Foundation series and Poe and the Brontes, the McCaffrey Dragon series, Bradbury, Clark, Dick, Vonnegut…

    I’ve read some Faulkner and James and Joyce and others and was blown away by their comprehension of human nature and their capacity to describe it…

    …I often find myself referring to Madeleine l’Engle’s “Time Quintet” and more specifically “A wrinkle in Time”…

    A Wrinkle in Time is perhaps what incited me at an early age, and to the chagrin of my atheistic parents (only thing they ever agreed on as I recall) to believe in a benevolent and creative force…

    Then there’s Pinter… and a hommage to the truth that inhabits silence in Human communication…

    and then it all got geo-political…

    • wingsuitfreak says:

      I was just thinking of Tolkein this morning, and also the Dune series (I forget authors names, but their works live on), The Jumping Frog story by Mark Twain (among others), The Flashman Chronicles (and his excellent scholarly, yet readable, work “The Steel Bonnets: The story of the Border Rievers”, Gary Jennings, Kurt Vonegut (his screenplay: Harrison Bergeron as well., but Slaughterhouse Five where the bombs are taken apart and the materials stored safely back into the ground where they will never harm anyone again has stuck with me), Joseph Heller (the movie was also excellent! I loved Bob Newhart’s role), Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (Never finished the series, but I loved what I read), Stephen King, so many books. Once I quit paying attention in school, they were my education.
      But I disagree that you have nothing to say. Nor do you need to publish it. The act of creation is its own reward. Jim, who notices that he is responding to your writing and notices that you have your own unique views and ways of espousing them.

      • nosoapradio says:

        I knew Madeleine l’Engle was right!

        • john.o says:

          nosoapradio, the story about L’Engle is worth a book!

          “Beliefs” aside, some authors connect via the human IMAGINATION to a benevolent creative force…voila!

          L’Engle is very much in an Anglo-Catholic literary tradition influenced by Blake, Coleridge and “Western Mystery Traditions” to the point of verging on “heresy” to those who care about such things.

          Even C.S. Lewis, the literary darling of many conservative Catholics and Anglicans, when writing as an artist and scholar and not a sermonizer, was influenced by this camp all too plainly, which is why stricter puritans consider him a purveyor of witchcraft and paganism. Too much IMAGINATION.

          And indeed, whether one sees it as good bad or indifferent, a natural progression of this tradition unfolded when J.K. Rowling unleashed the tradition from Christianity altogether and openly celebrated IMAGINATION via idealized witchcraft and sorcery in the Harry Potter series.

          To my ears, all these works celebrate the human IMAGINATION and carry on a very ancient poetic conversation. . I find every side in the conversation worth listening to. Including the Christian warnings. Whether we use them to connect to a benevolent creative force or a malevolent one, and how, is up to us.

          Bien fait!

          • nosoapradio says:


            before 1963 Madeleine l’Engle imagined a CENTRAL central intelligence agency that housed an imperiously pulsing brain that enslaved everyone on the planet into Group Mind … the brain’s name was


            (with capital letters).

            Merci pour votre aimable réponse John O.

    • nosoapradio says:

      “…a lack of intellectual and cultural Tools…”


      Distraction, laziness and lack of rigour…

      (those Sunday lunch cocktails bring out my self-pitying side…)

      (still appreciate wingsuitfreak’s timely kindness)

  11. john.o says:

    James, as a broody young man, late 60s and 70s USA, when it always seemed so easy to subsist on some random bullshit job paying just enough for rent, coffee, food and books, and my parents still had a shack in the woods, I read in a way I now, sadly, find unimaginable.

    It wasn’t uncommon to pick up Buddenbrooks, Moby Dick or War and Peace and do NOTHING but read, eat, drink, sleep, wake, caffeinate, defecate, urinate, read and repeat till I turned the last page. (Laying a great novel down after that was, every time, a painfully gratifying victory and loss.)

    One even greater luxury was the ability to take an author and more or less read though his or her works in succession. (Complete unemployment was especially good for this.) No author was more suited to that kind of reading than Faulkner and his long rolling cadences (which, if you happen to have been exposed to the American South, are even easier to hear in one’s mind or read aloud, I think) and his, mythically complete:
    Jefferson, Yoknapatawpha Co. Mississippi,
    Area 2400 Square Miles.
    Population: Whites, 6298; Negroes, 9313.
    William Faulkner, Sole Owner & Proprietor.
    This article might be an interesting in media res intro to Faulkner for those unfamiliar:

    Absalom Absalom and Light in August were my favorites, but I confess that by now all of Yoknapatawpha has mostly blended into one epic, biblio-tragic, whiskey, tobacco, magnolia and wisteria soaked cotton-pickin mystery initiation in my own personal mythic past.

    I can’t let Faulkner go without noting that he was a serious drinker and, unsurprisingly, a verifiable southern racist of his time, while also deeply, eloquently, powerfully and OPENLY expressing the incomprehensible tragic blight of slavery “on the land,” as he would say, which meant on the very soil, and on every white, black, indian, crop and critter thereon. It was also quite common for a black character in a Faulkner novel to be smarter, more sympathetic and evolved, than a white master. Go figure. As in the Bible, and Classical antiquity, where educated southerners (usually drunks or Christians, often both) live much of the time, slavery of all types, personal and social, and attempts to escape slavery, were everywhere. As was incest, a biblical theme in Absalom Absalom and (The Drive By Truckers).

    My own very literarily sophisticated white son, raised with deep friendships in the interracial inner city, has a hard time getting past all this in Faulkner. Also like many young people, the biggest whole in his literary knowledge is Biblical.

    Speaking of slavery, yes, James, I have a literary suggestion. A request, actually. Which I will put in brief reply to my own post later at some point. It pertains to another author, almost all of whose novels I happen to have read in succession, along with most of his essays and some published letters. None other than Mr. Aldous Huxley himself. No James Joyce or Faulkner as an artist, but an interesting man by any standard, I think.

    Thanks for this great invitation and public conversation.

    • wingsuitfreak says:

      Moby Dick. What a wonderful book! The first book offered as part of the Easton Press Book Club, where for only $5 you could have this book! Only $50 for each additional book, to be sent one per month. At that time anyway. I had the whole collection and regret the loss more than almost all my other possessions. Especially Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil which had the poem Metamorphosis of a Vampire. Her body writhing like a snake upon the hot coals stays with me even though I haven’t seen the poem in over a decade. What a wonderful depiction of consumerism! But I digress without apology. Thanks, Jim

    • john.o says:

      James, have you read any of the less famous novels of Aldous Huxley? I would love to hear your thoughts on, well, maybe not so much his “literary” development, (again, no Joyce or Faulkner) but on his personal development and character as a “novelist of ideas” (and sometimes a very funny British comedian and observer of human nature).

      There are roughly two main periods:

      1) His earliest novels up to Brave New World: 1921 Crome Yellow; 1923 Antic Hay; 1925 Those Barren Leaves; 1928 Point Counter Point.

      2) Those between Brave New World and Island: 1936 Eyeless in Gaza; 1939 After Many a Summer Dies the Swan; 1944 Time Must Have a Stop; 1948 Ape and Essence; 1955 The Genius and the Goddess.

      I realize that is quite a homework assignment, assuming you haven’t read many of them already, which I don’t assume. I don’t even assume you don’t have some deeper treatment of A. Huxley somewhere I have not seen. If so, please someone link me. I have tried to listen to what’s out there but not sure.

      Even if you, James, were to comment on just one or two in each category at some point, it would be very interesting to me. Why?

      I was, shall we say, an explorer of that time period, with fairly extensive unwitting exposure to various CIA operations: Psychedelic Drugs, Vajrayana Buddhism, and University Classics Programs, for instance. I was lucky. I had a very strong Western “skeptical” education, wasn’t much of a joiner, avoided the power hungry, and got a fairly deep exposure to “conspiracy” research at some point. Ultimately, I came through relatively unscathed, relatively more educated and less controlled, rather than less educated and more controlled, or so I like to think, but not everyone did. That’s for sure.

      I am very indebted to the research of Jan Irvin and others on this time period and the links between Huxley, Wasson, Leary et al. and MK-Ultra etc. (or maybe I should say et ALL). Obviously, I have had to rethink – still have to rethink – my naive views of the period on almost every level, but I am unconvinced by the interpretation of the data which paints Aldous Huxley as a nefarious black operative consciously scheming to dumb down the masses.

      As I see it, Huxley was a man of his time with, like Faulkner, like everyone, some obvious links and ambiguous associations to the evils of his time; but, more than Faulkner, was he a man trying to find a way out of the psychological, spiritual and sexual confusion of his culture, as his family passed from Calvinism through Darwinism to X. He saw it, I believe, as a culture of death and sought an antidote. Did he help create another? Alas, apparently. The road to Hell etc. etc. He himself like nearly everyone, was clearly propagandized by the left-right Hitler/Stalin paradigm.

      Here are Aldous Huxley’s novels, essays and articles, and published letters, (Yes, “somaweb.” I know, I know…)

      • wingsuitfreak says:

        He had an earlier novel too, though I don’t recall the title. It may have been his first. I didn’t like it though, I was expecting the brilliance of Brave New World, which it may have had, but it wasn’t timeless like Brave New World. It started out with a failing marriage, and supposedly had a lot to do with the shallowness of the period, especially concerning the privileged classes (memory may be faulty on this as I tend not to remember much of books I’ve rejected). Just thought I’d throw that out there. Jim

        • john.o says:

          His novels are all listed above. (Quite possibly you read Those Barren Leaves?)

          They begin as somewhat bitingly witty and bitter observations on degraded humanity in general and the vapid privileged in particular, quite obviously his own family (and himself, often enough). He had obviously been reading lots of Nietzsche, Darwin, of course, was probably taken by Spengler, as many were at the time. We forget that Western culture was still reeling psychologically from Newton and Hume! Darwin was over the top. Nietzsche himself was in many ways an attempt to look at human history post-Newton/Darwin.

          Huxley was quite clearly on a very human quest trying to find some way to make life and sexuality mean something “now that God was dead.” As the early novels progress, the bitterest humor softens some and the struggle for a spirituality that doesn’t cost one’s sexuality becomes more the focus. He was friends with DH Lawrence at that time.

          Many focus so much on the dystopic machinery of power in BNR, they overlook the “savages” and Huxley’s clear suggestion that in their squalor they still possess, for him, something precious: the old ways of natural sex and birth. The puritanical horror at the uncleanliness of unmodified sexuality and fecundity drives the sexless-soulless-techno-corporate-scientific efficiency with which both are eliminated. Humanity is cleaned up, satisfied, and thereby eliminated too. The only non-savage who gets it at all, is the result of an error in the lab which allows him to experience existential disquiet and approach the humanity of the reviled savages.

          After BNR and the rise and fall of Hitler and the War, Huxley publishes The Perrenial Philosophy which seeks to find a direct path to God by way of the Christian Mystics, and if I recall correctly the Sufis, and many thought Huxley would convert to Christianity, as so many British doubters did, but Huxley desired a spiritual “empiricism.” A way that required no sacrificium intellectus, no unquestionable dogma, a spirituality that could be verified in experience.

          There is a lot more to it. His association with Vedanta, and flirtation with Eastern ascetic anti-sexual spirituality (itself deeply influenced by Western colonial and Islamic puritanism). His exposure to psychedelics and “coitus interuptus,” the western “tantric sexuality.” His first marriage to a wife he loved deeply, but with whom he obviously shared sexual frustrations, ended with her death by cancer I believe. His second marriage was to the very spirited, intuitive and charming, even very intelligent, but not particularly intellectually rigorous, Laura Archera Huxley. She had a huge influence on him toward the end, not all to the good from a fan’s pov. Not to blame anything on Ms. Archera-Huxley, herself, of course, but the literary travesty of Island, a disconnect from the tragic depth of Western Literature, and a loss of some good old fashioned British skepticism, was to some degree the result of this happier marriage, in sunny Southern California, with psychedelics, among the rich and famous. (Think John Lennon – Yoko Ono?)

          I think Huxley really blew it in many ways, and he was always a man of his time and place, education and social position, with a perhaps inevitable Platonic slant to his social assumptions. But one thing stands out: this was all an intensely personal search to get AWAY from the value system of death he saw closing in on humankind. He loved the visionary populist poet mystic rebel William Blake his whole life and quoted him often. He strove to challenge the techno-mechanistic assumptions and oppressions of that death culture, but ended up embracing a sometimes beneficent, often silly, but all too often very frightening technology of spirituality, suitable for California self-help workshops and super-secret mind control experiments, but, worst of all, without any tragic depth or real humanity.

          Was Huxley’s personal loss of depth the plan all along? I doubt it. Master planner arch-spy for MK-ultra in the NWO? I need further proof.

          • wingsuitfreak says:

            You are doubtless correct in that novel. My lack of retention of its name reflects more my disappointment that his first wasn’t of the same timeless nature as his Brave New World and his follow-up with Brave New World Revisited. Though I am not as concerned as he was with the over-population. This is, of course, unfair to him, and reflects my own immature disappointment rather than his skill.
            I didn’t see him as a master planner either. It’s obvious he saw this coming and, to me anyway, he was just letting us know what we were asking for in our quest for whatever. I can see that you are a true devotee of him, while I am obviously not. Not that I don’t have the upmost respect for his work, and his spiritual quest, I’m just not the type to be a fan of someone else. I’m more likely to be a fan of an idea than a person. But that’s one of the pleasures of being a human being, differences can coincide and bring us together just as much as they can tear us apart. Thanks, Jim who will make it to the library where he checked out that book sometime this week and verify that you are indeed as correct as I think you are.

  12. scpat says:

    Article from August 25th, 2017:
    Lundbeck partners with 23andMe on first-of-its-kind study

    “[Pharmaceutical company] Lundbeck is collaborating with online genetics firm 23andMe and California-based thinktank the Milken Institute on a first-of-its-kind study in psychiatry.”

    “The US project will involve 25,000 patients and combine data from genetics, cognitive tests and online surveys to explore how genetics is related to major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar depression and certain brain functions.”

    Article from August 21st, 2016:
    23andMe’s Consumer DNA Data Gold Mine Is Starting To Pay Off

    “Pharma will pay big bucks for that kind of information. While 23andMe is still making most of its money through sales of its consumer testing kit—the price of which increased $100 in October of 2015—its collaborations with drug makers like Genentech (to study Parkinson’s disease) and Pfizer (inflammatory bowel disease and lupus) are a big part of its future growth.”

    “The company can now also start to research how certain various factors will impact how an individual is likely to respond to a drug. For this kind of research, known as pharmacogenetics, researchers need a massive cohort.”

  13. steven says:

    Hi James,
    One of my favorite novels which you may like is Sinuhe the Egyptian.

    The Egyptian (Sinuhe egyptiläinen, Sinuhe the Egyptian) is a historical novel by Mika Waltari. It was first published in Finnish in 1945.
    The protagonist of the novel is the fictional character Sinuhe, the royal physician, who tells the story in exile after Akhenaten’s fall and death. Apart from incidents in Egypt, the novel charts Sinuhe’s travels in then Egyptian-dominated Syria (Levant), in Mitanni, Babylon, Minoan Crete, and among the Hittites (Wikipedia).

    The works of Louis Mumford including The City in History, Art and Technics and the Myth of the Machine and the Pentagon of Power are historic works perfect for you and great literature which I found hard to put down.

    Thanks for the excellent journalism.

    • nosoapradio says:

      Thanks Steven – After reading a couple of reviews I’m buying the Myth of the Machine today.

      • john.o says:

        Mumford is really interesting and a good read. Your suggestion jogged my memory for one of my own my own.

        My vote for the most overlooked historical anthropological gem in Western Lit: The Ancient City by Foustel de Coulange.

        I studied ancient Roman literature and history for some time before I read it, but realized after I read it that I had no idea of how people actually thought and lived as families (which were everything) in the cities whose histories and literature I studied. Scholars I trust tell me that de Foulange has been corrected on some details here and there but his exposition of ancient life is mostly corroborated by more recent research.

        That experience of having my mind opened to a more ancient way of seeing and living reminded me of another such read: The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis. If you are interested in what it might have felt like to live in the Ptolemaic universe, with Aristotelian teleology self-evident as one of its first principles, and the starry starry sky appearing above you as a barely visible portion of a sphere of lights from whose perfection you had been flung into a confining relationship with dense matter to live, sin, suffer, and die, read this book.

        One interesting thing I have noticed is that some people become frightened when you ask them even to imagine living in a world different than the one they inhabit by their own more modern assumptions and stories.

        If I am following correctly the fascinating Victoria Alexander, linked over on the AI thread, things are about to change again as the modern world and its scientific priesthood world may have to make way for final cause once again in its bag of conceptual tools.

        • wingsuitfreak says:

          The only good thing (for me) out of the desert war was the night sky. We were in the middle of the second largest light-pollution free zone in the world. There were more stars in a single square inch there than I have ever seen in an entire sky before or since. It was breathtaking. But not worth all the rest of it!

          • nosoapradio says:

            yea…deserts… nearly unparalleled for stars and sunsets in my experience.

            and the monsoon season…the lightening… ohhh the skies over Tucson…

            The Discarded Image… C.S. Lewis sure knows how to create physical, existential, colossal echoing universes heavy with ambiance…that reference sounds tempting. And I’m embarassed to say I still haven’t got my hands on Mumford…

            now back to pedaling for points…

            • wingsuitfreak says:

              Don’t forget the sand that gets everywhere! I also can’t forget the dysentery which was followed up by a near fatal case of hypothermia. I heartily recommend avoiding both. However, I do remember the night before we were supposed to invade. (I was the NCOIC of a world’s record blackhawk assault. Some 60 something of them. But that night, I went to sleep after lying to the sorry SOBs who were always trying to avoid training and so were unfit for the invasion we were planning and all of a sudden lamented not training and all the backstabbing they did to me to get out of it. Oh wait, is that anger? Anyway, I was asleep and my buddy kicked me. I got up to punch him, when I noticed a desert fox asleep in his arms. It had come up to him as it was hungry, so he fed it some of his MREs and it then climbed into his lap and fell asleep. He said, pet it. I did and not only was its fur silkier than silk, but I knew with a clarity that I could never describe, that everything was going to be fine. One of those moments that make you realize there is a lot more to this world than we know. Come to think of it, despite (or perhaps because of) all the hardships I’ve experienced, I’ve lived a very privileged life.

  14. Mishelle says:

    Wonderfully expressed as usual, James. I don’t care what anyone says, it sucks to be right.

  15. Mielia says:

    What I read of Hesse I loved. I know you covered him already once. Though not Siddharta, which is my favourite.
    As I was younger I really loved all books by Tad Williams. Modern fantasy writer. Far better than this ASOIAF shit.

    I tried Faulkner once. Just too difficult. Wonderful, but difficult.

    I believe no one has mentioned the Mann brothers yet.
    Listening to you I thought you may like Buddenbrooks, decay of a family, by Thomas too.

    Then of course there are marvelous Russian writers.


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