A quarter century ago, in The Closing of the American Mind, Alan Bloom wrote:
A few years ago I chatted with a taxi driver in Atlanta who told me he had just gotten out of prison, where he served time for peddling dope. Happily he had undergone “therapy.” I asked him what kind. He responded, “All kinds— depth-psychology, transactional analysis, but what I liked best was Gestalt.” Some of the German ideas did not even require English words to become the language of the people. What an extraordinary thing it is that high-class talk from what was the peak of Western intellectual life, in Germany, has become as natural as chewing gum on American streets. It indeed had its effect on this taxi driver. He said that he had found his identity and learned to like himself. A generation earlier he would have found God and learned to despise himself as a sinner. The problem lay with his sense of self, not with any original sin or devils in him. We have here the peculiarly American way digesting Continental despair. It is nihilism with a happy ending.
This popularization of German philosophy in the United States is of peculiar interest to me because I have watched it occur during my own intellectual lifetime, and I feel a little like someone who knew Napoleon when he was six. I have seen value relativism and its concomitants grow greater in the land than anyone imagined. Who in 1920 would have believed that Max Weber’s technical sociological terminology would someday be the everyday language of the United States, the land of the Philistines, itself in the meantime become the most powerful nation in the world? The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier; Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsch label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family.
Which brings us to the Dresden Dolls, whom Wikipedia describes as follows:
The Dresden Dolls are an American musical duo from Boston, Massachusetts. Formed in 2000, the group consists of Amanda Palmer (lead vocals, piano, harmonica, ukulele) and Brian Viglione (drums, percussion, guitar, bass guitar, vocals). The two describe their style as “Brechtian punk cabaret”, a phrase invented by Palmer because she was “terrified” that the press would invent a name that “would involve the word gothic”. The Dresden Dolls are part of an underground dark cabaret movement that started gaining momentum in the early 2000s.
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The band’s first name was Out of Arms. At some point, the name became The Dresden Dolls. The name, according to Palmer, was “inspired by a combination of things,” including the firebombing of Dresden, Germany and the porcelain dolls that were a hallmark of pre-war Dresden industry; an early song of the same name by The Fall; and a reference to the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, where the classically blond-haired and blue-eyed protagonists are called “the Dresden dolls”. The name also evokes Weimar Germany and its cabaret culture. Additionally, Palmer “liked the parallel between Dresden (destruction) and Dolls (innocence, delicacy), because it is very much in keeping with the dynamics of the music, which sometimes goes from a childlike whisper to a banshee scream within a few seconds.”
You know what else can go from a whisper to a banshee scream in a few seconds? A pressure cooker bomb being detonated:
I honestly don’t understand why liberals run so quickly to sympathize with terrorists.
Amanda Palmer is a very quirky alternative rock artist who gained some fame while playing in the Dresden Dolls, and has since turned into an extremely un-traditional unorthodox performance artist with a loyal following and an interactive online presence.
This afternoon she tweeted out this sympathetic poem for the captured terrorism suspect Dzhohhar Tsarnaev:
— Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) April 21, 2013
Blogger SooperMexican adds:
I was trying to remember a saying that Dennis Prager quotes often in relation to this post, and my good friend ConservativeLA found it for me:
The wise — as opposed to most of the highly educated — know, among many other things, that when you give people something for nothing, you produce ungrateful people; that when you obscure the differences between men and women, you end up with many aimless men and angry women; that when you give children “self-esteem” without their earning it, you produce narcissists who enter adulthood incapable of handling life; that if you do not destroy evil, it will proliferate; and that if you are kind to the cruel, you will be cruel to the kind.
Exactly right… the kind of hand-wringing overly emotional existential ennui that inspires these responses to evil disable us to look at it squarely and defeat it.
Not all evil can be “understood” – some of it just needs to be extinguished.
Also, some of her followers have taken a very surprisingly unsympathetic view to my criticism!! Yes, you see, because I criticize their emotey-god, I am the hater, and should be reviled!
Huh. You’d think they’d have more empathy for an alternative point of view.