One of my many character flaws is a fondness for emotional and allegorical painting. I am nostalgically keen on 19thcentury canvases, painted at a time when the future was rather more optimistic than the one we propose today and when story-telling and technical expertise were very much in fashion. Everything is context, however. I do not think that Thomas Moran’s dramatic landscapes (1) can really be understood until you have gazed out from Moran (or Mather) Point into the geocline, and know that Thomas lived during America’s young adulthood. He surely understood deep time, yet his character had been formed in a culture of boundless confidence and perhaps he was able to convince himself that the vastness of time and space had been expressly designed to culminate in his brave new nation state.
Thomas Cole, originally a Lancashire lad, is a slightly older fossil. The first of the great American landscape painters, he was also an allegorist and perhaps because he was an immigrant and not as invested as Moran, he saw further and more darkly into the future. His wonderful Course of Empire paintings (2), which illustrate the universal arc of culture from barbarism to civilization, decadence and finally destruction, so unnerved the chatterati of his day that a member of the Supreme Court found it necessary to publicly refute Cole’s thesis.
Where is the USA Today?
It is often said that Americans passed directly from barbarism to decadence without knowing civilization. Perhaps the most entertaining and elliptical expounder of this idea is Thomas Pynchon, whose work is as large and as detailed as Cope’s, and who may or may not be a novelist. His writing is acrobatic, baroque and very funny, but not always joyful. And nor are Americans. It is no longer glad a.m. in Arizona or Maine. A Grand Canyon runs through the US, carving a rift between the more robust souls who still hold on to a vestige of the old pioneer spirit and those who, over-eager to take offence, keep the world at two arm lengths with surgical masks and political correctness. Trump represents the old, Biden the new corruption, and the gulf between their constituencies is unbridgeable.
Which brings us to Thomas Pynchon’s anagrammatic Tyrone Slothrop (3). In the masterpiece Gravity’s Rainbow, set during the second world war, Tyrone is, among other things, a Pavlovian downing rod for German rocket strikes. In a futile attempt to decode the statistical relationship between his sexual outgoings and V2 incomings he is doped with sodium amytal, and while under the influence he famously parses the sequence ‘You never did the Kenosha kid’.
Antifa and the Schwarzgerät, who are exactly what they claim to be against, give the US a flavour of pre-Bolshevik Russia. The kids who rioted, burned and looted (mostly peacefully) in Kenosha, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and elsewhere, are shot up with un-truth serum and oscillate between sloth and entropy. I have spoken to a few and they are mostly so confused, so self-contradictory and so unable to understand or accept logic and reason that their position is unarguable.
I want to sympathise with them because as a young man I felt the same confused rage against the established order. I am still enraged by degenerate, self-seeking politicians whose boundless hypocrisy allows BLM marches in the age of Covid but bans church gatherings, and who are supported by the pharma mafia in an unholy alliance between pharma profit-seeking and political power-seeking. I am enraged by the unholy trinity of Gyorgy Soros (originally Schwartz), Bill Gates and Gro Harlem, who appear to be working via the GAVI Alliance to ensure mandatory vaccination and universal biometric identification in a single needle stab (4). Covid has given these people one ring to bind us all, and given its vanishingly low infection fatality rate of about 0.16% (5, 6), I cheer those who protest masks and the lockdowns which increase mortality (4), and only decrease freedom.
But it’s easy for me to talk. I was given the opportunity to learn the rules before I started breaking them. I grew up in an age when social mobility still worked, and before ultra-processed foods arrived.
The Kenosha kids have bad brains. I have sat in their feral classes at school, where nobody can be a loser and no boundaries are set, and I have seen them fed night after night on McDonald and Taco Bell. The Kenosha kids’ ego boundaries are fragile, their nervous systems undermined by inflammation, type B malnutrition and dysbiosis, which predispose them to hippocampal atrophy (7, 8), depression, anxiety and reduced impulse control (9 – 20). Suicide rates are at an all-time high (21), as are rates of addiction and substance abuse (22).
I feel for them because so much of their future has been stolen. Manual and now white-collar jobs have been decimated. Small towns and businesses have been gutted by Amazon. The value of labour has been falling for the last 50 years (23), due to the financialisation of our economies as they transited from bourse to casino. Companies that once provided employment and served communities morphed into financial machines designed to enrich insiders, who loaded their companies with debt in order to give obscene payouts to corporate share-holders (often the same insiders), absurd salaries to mediocre management, stock buy-backs and many other shoddy accounting practices which remain invisible, because the guards are corrupt (24). Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (EY) and KPMG commit corporate incest on a truly staggering scale and are deeply implicated, as are the banks, in the global laundering of criminal money.
Unfortunately for all of us, today’s rebels without a clue persist in mistaking economic and class war for race, gender and generational war. Grinding out, yet again, weary variants of Marxism will not end well for any of us outside the elites’ gates; and the Kenosha kids, fragile winners / social justice warriors / canon fodder, will be the biggest losers of all in the asymmetrical warfare that will likely follow the coming fiat currency collapse.
The illustration to this post shows Kyle Rittenhouse. Kyle is not a Kenosha kid but became the poster boy for Kenosha because he shot several people. Your reaction to that probably depends in large measure on whether you are someone who thinks, or someone who feels. These are very different navigational instruments; as the 18th century British writer and politician Horace Walpole put it, ‘The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.’
I personally think the world is more accurately seen as both, and neither; but for the thinkers here, the last reference shows some of the background to Kyle’s actions (25).
Photo credit: Getty images
- Jacka FN, Cherbuin N, Anstey KJ, Sachdev P, Butterworth P. Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation. BMC Med. 2015 Sep 8;13:215.
- Akbaraly T, Sexton C, Zsoldos E, Mahmood A, Filippini N, Kerleau C, Verdier JM, Virtanen M, Gabelle A, Ebmeier KP, Kivimaki M. Association of Long-Term Diet Quality with Hippocampal Volume: Longitudinal Cohort Study. Am J Med. 2018 Nov;131(11):1372-1381.e4.
- NapierBA, Andres-Terre M, Massis LM, Hryckowian AJ, Higginbottom SK, Cumnock K, Casey KM, Haileselassie B, Lugo KA, Schneider DS, Sonnenburg JL, Monack DM. Western diet regulates immune status and the response to LPS-driven sepsis independent of diet-associated microbiome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Feb 26;116(9):3688-3694.
- Lindqvist A, Mohapel P, Bouter B, Frielingsdorf H, Pizzo D, Brundin P, Erlanson-Albertsson High-fat diet impairs hippocampal neurogenesis in male rats. Eur J Neurol. 2006 Dec;13(12):1385-8.
- Stangl D, Thuret S. Impact of diet on adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Genes Nutr. 2009 Dec; 4(4): 271–282.
- Beilharz JE, Maniam J, Morris MJ. Short-term exposure to a diet high in fat and sugar, or liquid sugar, selectively impairs hippocampal-dependent memory, with differential impacts on inflammation. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Jun 1;306:1-7.
- Jena PK, Sheng L, Di Lucente J, Jin LW, Maezawa I, Wan YY. Dysregulated bile acid synthesis and dysbiosis are implicated in Western diet-induced systemic inflammation, microglial activation, and reduced neuroplasticity. FASEB J. 2018 May;32(5):2866-2877.
- Treadway M, Cooper JA, Miller AH. Can’t or won’t? Immunometabolic constraints on dopaminergic drive. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2019, May 1, 435-448 (Review)
- Felger JC, Treadway MT. Inflammation Effects on Motivation and Motor Activity: Role of Dopamine. 2017 Jan;42(1):216-241.
- Felger JC. The Role of Dopamine in Inflammation-Associated Depression: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Implications. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2017;31:199-219.
- Furuyashiki T, Kitaoka S. Neural mechanisms underlying adaptive and maladaptive consequences of stress: roles of dopaminergic and inflammatory responses. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2019 Jun 19. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12901. [Epub ahead of print] Review.
- Kohler O, Krogh J, Mors O, Benros ME. Inflammation in Depression and the Potential for Anti-Inflammatory Treatment. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2016;14(7):732-42.
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Derry HM, Fagundes CP. Inflammation: depression fans the flames and feasts on the heat.Am J Psychiatry. 2015 Nov 1;172(11):1075-91.
- Majd M, Saunders EFH, Engeland CG. Inflammation and the Dimensions of Depression: A Review. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2019 Oct 22:100800.
- Ivey-Stephenson AZ, Demissie Z, Crosby AE, Stone DM, Gaylor E, Wilkins N, Lowry R, Brown M. Suicidal Ideation and Behaviors Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019.MMWR Suppl 2020;69(Suppl-1):47–55
- NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/national-drug-early-warning-system-ndews/national-survey-drug-use-health
- US Bureau of Economic Analysis Ann Rep 2019: https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.wixstatic.com%2Fmedia%2Fccca28_7e653976735e4664a8bbb330a2891e21~mv2_d_4000_2400_s_4_2.png%2Fv1%2Ffill%2Fw_630%2Ch_378%2Cal_c%2Cq_85%2Cusm_0.66_1.00_0.01%2Fccca28_7e653976735e4664a8bbb330a2891e21~mv2_d_4000_2400_s_4_2.webp&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.flomartin.com%2Fsingle-post%2F2017%2F08%2F26%2FTwilight-of-the-Labor-Union-Era&tbnid=gmZRR7JJBpxm9M&vet=12ahUKEwi6w82XooLsAhVDk54KHVChAXUQMyg3egQIARA0..i&docid=jY9pMPdcu_upGM&w=630&h=378&itg=1&q=FRED%20shares%20of%20gross%20domestic%20income&hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwi6w82XooLsAhVDk54KHVChAXUQMyg3egQIARA0