“Why . . . so . . . serious?” — The Joker
“It’s all a joke.” — The Comedian
“All humane people should admit that they are jokers; that they are playing games and playing tricks. That I am doing it on you—I am most ready to admit this. I hoaxed you all into coming here to tell you . . . what?” [laughs loudly, crowd laughs] — Alan Watts
Alan Watts is remembered, if at all, as “that hippie philosopher,” meaning perhaps both “a philosopher who was a hippie” (or vice versa), or “a philosopher for or of hippies.”
But Constant Readers of this website know that, whatever else, Watts was above all a “man of the Right.”
For example, Greg Johnson points out that
Watts tries to reach out to the ’60s counter-culture in Does it Matter?, but at the same time he makes it clear that he accepts the Traditional idea of historical decline and rejects all cause-mongering and progressivism.
It seems odd to think of Watts as a “rightist” because although
To most readers, the theory of “Wealth versus Money” seems both amazingly original and astonishingly naïve. . . . that is because Watts is concealing his sources. In fact, the foundation of his proposals is merely a version of C. H. Douglas’ Social Credit theory. Of course Watts had good reason not to mention Douglas in the pages of Playboy in 1968: Social Credit was the economic system favored by Anglophone fascists like Ezra Pound.
As another example of what might be called “strange not so new respect,” a reader of Watts’ Beyond Theology (Pantheon, 1965) finds that the hip, Zen-meditated, LSD-expanded young intelligentsia of 1965 were applying their psychedelic insights against dreary old Dad by advocating . . . intelligent design:
A universe which grows human beings is as much a human, or humaning, universe as a tree which grows apples is an apple tree. . . . There is still much to be said for the old theistic argument that the materialist-mechanistic atheist is declaring his own intelligence to be no more than a special form of unintelligence. . . .
The real theological problem for today is that it is, first of all, utterly implausible to think of this Ground as having the monarchical and paternal character of the Biblical Lord God. But, secondly, there is the much more serious difficulty of freeing oneself from the insidious plausibility of the mythology of nineteenth-century scientism, from the notion that the universe is gyrating stupidity in which the mind of man is nothing but a chemical fantasy doomed to frustration. It is insufficiently recognized that this is a vision of the world inspired by the revolt against the Lord God of those who had formerly held the role of his slaves. This reductionist, nothing-but-ist view of the universe with its muscular claims to realism and facing-factuality is at root a proletarian and servile resentment against quality, genius, imagination, poetry, fantasy, inventiveness and gaiety. Within twenty or thirty years it will seem as superstitious as flat-earthism.
Well, he seems to have been a little off on that prediction; the argument is still valid, though. Archeo-futurism: who’s more “old fashioned” than a “free-thinking” atheist/materialist?
Or their cousins, the political Liberals.
But before we look any further at Watts’ suspiciously non-PC attitudes, let’s step back and look at their source.
Watts’ fundamental insight — equal parts philosophy (Vedanta), psychology (Gestalt), and pharmacology (LSD-25) — was that fundamentally, there are no things. Our experience — and hence any idea we can form of the universe — is of processes or waves.
Now these processes or waves have a kind of duality: they seem to have two parts, or phases, or sides. Up and down, black and white, left and right, front and back, life and death. I say “seem” or “kind of” because we don’t want to get into any idea of these phases being like the parts of a transmission, out of which we can build or into which we can disassemble the machine. That’s the problem Descartes wound up with, having dissected experience into two utterly different kinds of thing (mind and matter) and then was left wondering how — or if — they interacted.
No, all these processes have aspects that are so closely bound up with each other that one can’t even imagine them separated, like front and back. To convey this non-relational relationship Watts suggested we use his neologism “goeswith,” as in “Front goeswith Back.”
Watts’ own expositions of this are so clear, compelling, and above all entertaining (and he called himself not a philosopher but a “philosophical entertainer”) that one fears sounding like someone over-explaining a joke, or falling into endless quotations. At this point, you might be better off sampling some audio/video remixes an enterprising chap has set up on YouTube.
But it does need a bit of explaining, since for some 2000 years we, in the West at least, have been operating under two very different fundamental understandings
First, the Jews bequeathed to us the idea of an omnipotent Creator who creates creatures like man from out of the dust, and the dust itself out of nothing at all. Watts calls this the Ceramic Model (with hints of Semite?), after St. Paul’s denying the pot the right to question the work of the potter.
There are problems with the model, especially in the underlying, inescapable sense of existential uncertainty it inculcates. But around 500 years ago people began to rethink it, asking in particular why we needed God at all. Deism, which postulated a “watchmaker” god who wound things up and then went on vacation, eventually became outright scientific Atheism. The Ceramic Model was replaced with the Machine Model; more particularly, what I call the Idiot Machine Model. Unfortunately, the existential unease, the damnable contingency and fragility of everything, ultimately ending in the death of ourselves and the universe, remained.
Now this may seem like, indeed, airy-fairy hippie nonsense, but as Watts liked to point out, like all metaphysics, it is “rockily practical.” At least, there are practical conclusions.
For one, as we’ve seen, it makes Intelligent Design, well, intelligible. Animals are not bags of meat shoved around by outside forces called Nature; they are processes, and they “gowith” their environment: if there are people, then the universes is a peopling universe; if there is intelligence, it is an intelligent universe. Neo-Darwinism, despite its “neo” prefix, is just the same old Idiot Machine model. Admittedly, they’re also right to suspect ID is smuggling in God; it’s the Ceramic Model rearing its head again.
To see how all this plays out in the modern political scene, we need to back up a bit first. Both the Ceramic Model and the Idiot Machine Model assume a universe of things, one of which is us. Humans, in particular, are in a forever precarious position vis-à-vis the universe (all the other things). In the Ceramic Model we are the creatures of a supposedly loving but strict and rather unpredictable God; in the Idiot Machine Model we are a random fluke of the universe, subject to the apparently eternal extinction of death at some unknown but inescapable point, followed by the universe itself.
While the Joyous Cosmology of Watts is a game between White and Black, the existential unease produced by both of the other models issue in a fight, pitting White against Black.
The game of White and Black, where White tries to win, and eventually will, but not without many ups and downs, which lend interest and spice to the game, becomes not a game but a fight when White feels absolutely positively that he must win. A loss (e.g., ones physical death) would be catastrophic — literally, as Joe Biden would say, apocalyptic.
Life lived according to Watts’ Joyous Cosmology is quite different:
It comes, then, to this: that to be “viable,” livable, or merely practical, life must be lived as a game—and the “must” here expresses a condition, not a commandment. It must be lived in the spirit of play rather than work, and the conflicts which it involves must be carried on in the realization that no species, or party to a game, can survive without its natural antagonists, its beloved enemies, its indispensable opponents. For to “love your enemies” is to love them as enemies; it is not necessarily a clever device for winning them over to your own side. The lion lies down with the lamb in paradise, but not on earth—”paradise” being the tacit, off-stage level where, behind the scenes, all conflicting parties recognize their interdependence, and, through this recognition, are able to keep their conflicts within bounds. This recognition is the absolutely essential chivalry which must set the limits within all warfare, with human and non-human enemies alike, for chivalry is the debonair spirit of the knight who “plays with his life” in the knowledge that even mortal combat is a game.
“Chivalry” is the last thing that comes to mind when considering Hillary, and the last thing on her mind as well.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a laugh with a television news reporter moments after hearing deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been killed. “We came, we saw, he died,” she joked when told of news reports of Qaddafi’s death by an aide.
In foreign policy, this is the mentality of “The Good War,” which is actually all wars, since America is always in the right and always faces The New Hitler.
Of course, this is always portrayed as a sin of the Right — first, the obsession with bombing our enemies not into surrender and crude material plundering (which at least would be understandable) — but “back to the Stone Age,” then, turned suicidally on ourselves, smugly professing ourselves to believe it “Better Dead than Red.”
But in reality, it’s equally the mindset of the Liberals possessed with the Orwellian-named “Humanitarian Interventionism,” from McKinley’s “helping” the Philippines and just accidentally acquiring an empire, to Wilson’s “War to End All Wars,” to Hillary’s excellent adventures in North Africa. It’s always a war not for plunder or honor, but until the enemy is annihilated: unconditional surrender!
And as Watts would point out, since White can’t really “win” where “win” means “total annihilation of Black,” it follows that war is endless. There’s always a New Hitler; Eurasia has always been at war with Eastasia.
On the domestic front, we see the White against Black mentality in the PC obsessions of modern Identity Politics.  The creatures of the PC universe are indeed helpless egos in bags of skin, facing a cruel world that constantly micro-aggresses them. And under such conditions, any accommodation to the Enemy is Treason.
For Watts, though, things are entirely different:
The morality that goes with this understanding is, above all, the frank recognition of your dependence upon enemies, underlings, out-groups, and, indeed, upon all other forms of life whatsoever. Involved as you may be in the conflicts and competitive games of practical life, you will never again be able to indulge in the illusion that the “offensive other” is all in the wrong, and could or should be wiped out. This will give you the priceless ability of being able to contain conflicts so that they do not get out-of-hand, of being willing to compromise and adapt, of playing, yes, but playing it cool. This is what is called “honor among thieves,” for the really dangerous people are those who do not recognize that they are thieves — the unfortunates who play the role of the “good guys” with such blind zeal that they are unconscious of any indebtedness to the “bad guys” who support their status.
As Watts meditates on this, he just keeps digging himself deeper into the role of spokesman for hurtful bullies:
It is most important that this be understood by those concerned with civil rights, international peace, and the restraint of nuclear weapons. These are most undoubtedly causes to be backed with full vigor, but never in a spirit which fails to honor the opposition, or which regards it as entirely evil or insane. It is not without reason that the formal rules of boxing, judo, fencing, and even dueling require that the combatants salute each other before the engagement. In any foreseeable future there are going to be thousands and thousands of people who detest and abominate Negroes, communists, Russians, Chinese, Jews, Catholics, beatniks, homosexuals, and “dope-fiends.” These hatreds are not going to be healed, but only inflamed, by insulting those who feel them, and the abusive labels with which we plaster them — squares, fascists, rightists, know-nothings — may well become the proud badges and symbols around which they will rally and consolidate themselves. Nor will it do to confront the opposition in public with polite and nonviolent sit-ins and demonstrations, while boosting our collective ego by insulting them in private. If we want justice for minorities and cooled wars with our natural enemies, whether human or non-human, we must first come to terms with the minority and the enemy in ourselves and in our own hearts, for the rascal is there as much as anywhere in the “external” world — especially when you realize that the world outside your skin is as much yourself as the world inside. For want of this awareness, no one can be more belligerent than a pacifist on the rampage, or more militantly nationalistic than an anti-imperialist.
Watts analyzes the moral crusader in terms straight from the work of that nasty “anti-Semite,” Kevin MacDonald:
I would never be able to know that I belong to the in-group of “nice” or “saved” people without the assistance of an out-group of “nasty” or “damned” people. How can any in-group maintain its collective ego without relishing dinnertable discussions about the ghastly conduct of outsiders? The very identity of racist Southerners depends upon contrasting themselves with those dirty black “nigras.” But, conversely, the out-groups feel that they are really and truly “in,” and nourish their collective ego with relishingly indignant conversation about squares, Ofays, WASPs, Philistines, and the blasted bourgeoisie.
Although Watts sees himself, and is, on the side of the Angels here, his refusal to turn this into a Battle in Heaven that the Angels must win against damnable devils marks him out, in contemporary terms, as a turncoat or a Fifth Columnist. In the neo-Stalinist language of the SJWs, no matter what one’s intentions, if one cuts the “enemy” some slack, or mildly critiques one’s own side, one is “objectively” acting for the enemy. For example, when comedian Patton Oswalt retweeted Steve Sailer’s remark that Political Correctness is a war on Noticing, he was immediately attacked by people saying that Sailer was “objectively” racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic.
And note the use of the quasi-N word! Ban The Book!
Watts, like Kevin MacDonald, suggests this moral signaling is rooted in Protestantism:
[M]odern Protestantism in particular, in its liberal and progressive forms, is the religion most strongly influenced by the mythology of the world of objects, and of man as the separate ego. Man so defined and so experienced is, of course, incapable of pleasure and contentment, let alone creative power. Hoaxed into the illusion of being an independent, responsible source of actions, he cannot understand why what he does never comes up to what he should do, for a society which has defined him as separate cannot persuade him to behave as if he really belonged. Thus he feels chronic guilt and makes the most heroic efforts to placate his conscience.
From these efforts come social services, hospitals, peace movements, foreign-aid programs, free education, and the whole philosophy of the welfare state. Yet we are bedeviled by the fact that the more these heroic and admirable enterprises succeed, the more they provoke new and increasingly horrendous problems. For one thing, few of us have ever thought through the problem of what good such enterprises are ultimately supposed to achieve. When we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and housed the homeless, what then? Is the object to enable unfortunate people to help those still more unfortunate? To convert Hindus and Africans into a huge bourgeoisie, where every Bengali and every Zulu has the privilege of joining our special rat-race, buying appliances on time and a television set to keep him running?
And surely the Ultimate Methodist Scold is none other than Hillary.
To Hillary and all the SJWs who would call this a gospel of passivity or even (ironically) despair, Watts make a simple distinction. He asks, if a pretty girl says she loves you, do you say “Are you serious?” or do you say, “Are you sincere?” To the suicidal Seriousness of the Fighter, Watts contrasts the Sincerity and Good Humor of the Player, the Good Sport.
Be that as it may, Watts’ verdict on the morals and politics of the adult world, pursuing scorched Earth in the name of Morality, is dire:
The political and personal morality of the West, especially in the United States, is utterly schizophrenic. It is a monstrous combination of uncompromising idealism and unscrupulous gangsterism, and thus devoid of the humor and humaneness which enables confessed rascals to sit down together and work out reasonable deals.
“A monstrous combination of uncompromising idealism and unscrupulous gangsterism” is really the perfect description of the Clintons, who, to be fair, are only the ultimate and most characteristic product of the Liberal Elite.
And as for “the humor and humaneness which enables confessed rascals to sit down together and work out reasonable deals,” is this not The Donald himself, the master of The Art of the Deal?
And those same foreign rascals sense this as well:
Russian President Vladimir Putin had kind words for his “stablemate” Donald Trump during an annual end-of-the-year Q&A session in Moscow.
“[Donald Trump is] a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt,” [Vladimir] Putin told reporters, according to a translation by Interfax. “It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race.”
The GOP frontrunner has been blunt about his plans for defrosting U.S. relations with Russia should he be elected president.
“He says he wants to move on to a new, more substantial relationship, a deeper relationship with Russia, how can we not welcome that?” he said. “Of course we welcome that.”
For Hillary, though, foreign policy, like everything else, is Serious Business, and rascals like Putin are devils to be threatened with ’50s style nuclear annihilation. As Camile Paglia has pointed out with some urgency, Hillary is the New Nixon, the ultimate Brown-shoed Square:
But Hillary, consumed by her own restless bitterness, has no such tranquility. The wheels must grind! The future must be conquered! Past slights must be avenged! So it’s all planning and scheming and piling up loot, the material emblem of existential worth.
What would The Joker say about planning and scheming, and piling up loot? What would Watts say, or even, dare we think it, God Himself? Is Trump the hero we deserve, or the hero we need? Perhaps, as an earlier Joker would say, he’s the enema this town needs.
So, get “with it,” kids; save the Earth, and piss off your parents and the all the other squares, too: vote for Trump!
1. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2012).
2. Watchmen (Alan Moore, 1986; Zach Snyder, 2009).
3. “Is it Serious?”(audio lecture), here.
4. See the opening paragraphs of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of madness in Grosse Pointe, Expensive People: “I was a child murderer. I don’t mean child-murderer, though that’s an idea. I mean child murderer, that is, a murderer who happens to be a child, or a child who happens to be a murderer. You can take your choice. When Aristotle notes that man is a rational animal one strains forward, cupping his ear, to hear which of those words is emphasized — rational animal, rational animal? Which am I? Child murderer, child murderer? It took me years to start writing this memoir, but now that I’m started, now that those ugly words are typed out, I could keep on typing forever. A kind of quiet, blubbering hysteria has set in. You would be surprised, normal as you are, to learn how many years, how many months, and how many awful minutes it has taken me just to type that first line, which you read in less than a second: I was a child murderer.” (Vanguard Press, 1968; Modern Library, 2006). For more on Vanguard Press, see my “Anti-Mame: Communist Camp Classic Unmasked,” here.
5. Or “beneath it all” as he might have preferred; as did my mentor, Dr. Deck, who, in his Canadian way, liked to speak of things au fond and of “approfondising” some helpless dead philosopher.
6. See Greg Johnson’s “The Spiritual Materialism of Alan Watts: A Review of Does it Matter?” here. “Watts was known to be a quiet man of the Right, but it is high time that scholars determine just how far to the Right he was.”
7. Johnson, loc. cit. Watts is somewhat more forthcoming about Douglas in his autobiography, but probably thinks — rightly — that it’s just a name to his readers. See In My Own Way: An Autobiography, 1915–1965 (New York: Pantheon, 1972).
8. I also love how Watts could see, even back then, that the argument was indeed about intelligence, and the phony opposition between Judaic Creationist Priests and Judaic Materialist Scientists; and what wonderful phrases he comes up with: “insidious plausibility,” “gyrating stupidity.” I vote we start using these ourselves; what else is the opponent of ID but an advocate of “gyrating stupidity”; any guesses as to how many “factuality-facing” fashionable atheists will have the intellectual courage to grasp the term as indeed articulating their view, or give the reason why not?
9. Compare Thomas Mann’s Dr. Faustus, where the combined futurist extremism and atavistic primitivism (as Mann sees it) that led to the rise of Hitler is explored through a series of grotesque figures in “the Kridwiss Circle” who alternatively shock and amuse the “conservative” nobility, such as Daniel zur Hohe (author of a single book, on “hand-made paper”; a “lyrico-rhetorical outburst of voluptuous terrorism”; Stefan George?), and the, in this case at least, rather Wattsian figure of the polymath “private scholar” Dr. Chaim Breisacher, a Jewish Evola, sneering at the very idea of “progress” in a world that has been declining since Solomon built his temple. Miles Mathis writes that “Scientists will say that the current models are superior to Genesis, at any rate, since one who accepts Genesis doesn’t continue to ask how the Earth evolved. This much is true. Good scientists continue to study, while religious people and bad scientists do not. But this paper is not about good scientists, it is about bloated atheists and bad scientists, the sort that think they already know how things are. They have barebones models of the early Earth, models less than a century old and ever-changing, and they think they can claim with certainty how things are, who exists and who does not, how things got here and where they are going. They think a theory of how things evolved is equivalent to a theory of how things were created. They think a model of a complex twisting molecule is the same as a blueprint for life or an explanation of self-locomotion or a proof of phylogeny. They think that four-vector fields and non-abelian gauge groups and statistical analysis explain existence, complexity, solidity, and change.” The whole article is available here. Seth Macy writes in “Shut Up, Nerd” that “It’s really a delight to see people waking up to the lameness of scientists. Nerds belong in labs or basements, not as the subject of memes. Science is extraordinarily useful. Scientists are extraordinarily lame, but they make science, so they have worth to society. The entire ‘skeptical movement’ is filled with the same boring people who love to shit on everything right and lovely. They can’t shit on stuff that sucks, because then they’d need to shit all over themselves like some skeptic tubgirl. We need to stop listening to anything they say outside of the confines of laboratory settings. It’s like your favorite comedian spewing politics on Twitter. Shut the fuck up.”
10. See The Joyous Cosmology (1965; reprinted 2015 with an introduction by Daniel Pinchbeck). “The Joyous Cosmology is Alan Watts’s exploration of the insight that the consciousness-changing drugs LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin can facilitate ‘when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding’. More than an artifact, it is both a riveting memoir of Watts’s personal experiments and a profound meditation on our perennial questions about the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.”
11. Thus, Jesus says that we should not listen to someone who says of the kingdom of Heaven that lo! It is here or lo! It is there, for the Kingdom is within us. “And indeed We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (Quran 50:16).
12. Ironically enough, the company and channel is called Tragedy and Hope, which should again be a “red flag” for conspiracy hounds, as well as connecting Watts to Hillary through Bill’s college mentor (and CIA control?) Carroll Quigley. Indeed, “Isaac’s videos document his journey from conspiracy theory to spirituality, a path that many of us who have opened the conspiracy can of worms can personally relate to. ‘If you look through my channel you will see that it is basically a reflection of my awakening, starting out with conspiracies and politics and then moving into philosophy and spirituality, which I now believe to be the most important truth,’ he said.”
13. Such as making sense out of creation ex nihilo. See John N. Deck’s epochal critique “St. Thomas Aquinas and the Language of Total Dependence,” first published in Dialogue: A Canadian Philosophical Review, Vol. 6, 1967, pp. 74–88; anthologized in Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays, Anthony Kenny, ed. (Notre Dame University Press, 1976), pp. 237–254, and online here. Deck later generalized his argument as “The Itself: In-Another Pattern and Total Dependence,” also on Tony Flood’s website devoted to debating the issue.
14. George Bernard Shaw, a proponent of “vitalism,” argued that the public acceptance of Darwinism was not motivated by the supposed evidence — they not being scientists, after all — but rather by weariness at the constant surveillance and intrusions of the Calvinist God, little realizing that the God-less model left them with a literally senseless and meaningless universe. See his Preface to Back to Methuselah.
15. “You are a fluke of the Universe. You have no right to be here. And whether you know it or not, the Universe is laughing behind your back.” From Deteriorata, the National Lampoon parody of the uplifting 70s LP/poster Desiderata. For my reflections on the ‘poon, see here. Deteriorata addresses both the Ceramic Model as well as Watts’ Joyous Cosmology: “Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.” Oddly enough, Adlai Stevenson was apparently a fan, despite his mean-spirited attack on Norman Vincent Peale (see my “The Secret of Trump’s A Peale,” here).
16. Dr. Deck would correct Watts, or “approfondise” him, here; White and Black are a “dialectic couplet,” but White is the “senior partner.” In this sense, and only in this sense, White must win; the necessity is logical, not willful. As Guénon would say, quality and quantity are only logical opposites, not real entities; and while the Whole can be described, as a facon de paler, as “Quality,” (though really transcending both), “Quantity” (matter, darkness, evil, emptiness, etc.) is only a shadow, a point approached asymtopically. Watts does sometimes notice this: “The game doesn’t work in reverse, just as the ocean doesn’t work with wave-crests down and troughs up.”
17. Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes . . .
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . mass hysteria!
Mayor: All right, all right! I get the point! (Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman, 1984).
18. Another un-PC moment. This is the answer to all those Christians who smugly talk about “we are all God’s children” or “In Heaven there is no Jew or Gentile” as if this required us to throw open the borders, abolish all voting requirements, etc. They have confused (deliberately?) the levels of Heaven and Earth — “immanatized the Eschaton,” as Voegelin liked to say.
19. This all and all the following otherwise unattributed quotes are from The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Pantheon, 1967), available online here and elsewhere.
20. “We came, we saw, he died.” You can, if you want, watch it here.
21. “And you can believe me. . . . Because I never lie, and I’m always right.” Campaign ad for George Leroy Tirebiter’s father, running for dog-killer, on the Firesign Theater’s Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers (Columbia, 1970). According to Wikipedia, the first late-night movie on the album, High School Madness, “is a parody of the Aldrich Family radio show, the Archie comic book and of 1950s youth culture in general.” See my “Welcome to the Club: The Rise & Fall of the Männerbund in Pre-War American Pop Culture,” here. The second movie, Parallel Hell” “is a war film set in Korea, where the soldiers (including Tirebiter) debate the seemingly endless war.”
22. Like Chris Rock on OJ, Watts doesn’t say traditional war is right, but he understands the need and the goals.
23. Or perhaps at least the Jazz Age. “Leading to a Crowning Moment of Funny as the pilots practice bombing the absolute shit out of the desert while muzak plays: Crow: We’re gonna bomb ‘em back to the Jazz Age!” TV Tropes on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Episode 612, The Starfighters.
24. Christian conservatives like the Buckleyites would often smugly assert that this was a “truly spiritual” view, which is true in the sense that Christianity and other Ceramic Religions seem to lead to it; when it is actually merely the crackpot “spirit vs. matter” spirituality that Watts contrasts with “a really thoroughgoing spiritual materialism.”
25. Sir Fred Hoyle’s October the First is Too Late imagines that men of present England, dumped into a world where WWI is still raging in France, would immediately try to stop the slaughter. Perhaps, but would they have done the same if it were 1942? See my “Worlds Enough & Times: The Unintentionally Weird Fiction of Fred Hoyle,” here.
26. Again, in the phenomenal world. Ultimately, at the end of this Manvantara, Black “wins” but the wheel immediately flips, setting up first the sleep of Brahman, then a new Golden Age as the cycle begins again. See “The Basic Myth” in Does It Matter?
27. Needless to say, the global oligarchs are fully onboard this, like all other aspects of the “Liberal” agenda; permanent war means permanent profits.
28. Marxism might at first seem to be an alternative to the Social Darwinist individualism of the Right, what with its obsession with classes, but just like Darwin (another “iconoclast” beloved of “skeptics” and other nerdy asshats), Marxists do not see the people as natural products of the State, but as random individuals united only by superficial nominalism of class characteristics. Even Marx recognized that “Religion is . . . the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.”
29. Like Watts, Burroughs had a more relaxed, realistic view: ““I would like to sound a word of warning — To speak is to lie — to live is to collaborate . . .” William Burroughs, Nova Express (New York: Grove Press, 1964), p. 14.
30. Gilad Atzmon gets it: “One would expect an academic scholar specialising in Modern Jewish History to grasp that Zionism as well as the State of Israel are sustained by Jew hatred. If ‘anti-Semitism’ disappears, Israel and Zionism become obsolete concepts. Understanding this, Israel and Zionism have consistently contributed to the rise of anti-Semitism. When there is no anti-Semitism to point at, Jewish institutions simply invent it, as they are presently doing in the Labour party.” See “Hitler the Zionist,” here.
31. I suppose something like this lies behind the occasional Leftist conspiracy theorist who thinks that the drug and hippie movements were “manufactured” by the CIA to derail the burgeoning anti-war movement, turning manly tribunes of the Folk into lethargic burnouts, or else scaring everyone else with tales of the Manson Family. See the various writings of Miles Mathis. Shrine of Eris writes that “He likes to rip the rug from under people I may like quite a bit, such as Rupert Sheldrake, and Alan Watts, and Russell Brand (all three working towards ‘‘an agenda of drug use’’ and pseudo ‘‘mysticism’’ promotion, apparently, and quite plausibly in my opinion), and Terrence McKenna (self-confessed CIA plant). Graham Hancock. Ram Dass. Timothy Leary. Blavatsky, Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Hemingway; All the great and cool get a lash of his tongue. Which could be sad. . . . but I find it refreshing. He sees Red Flags everywhere, this Mathis. Most everyone who has set the foundation for counterculture of any kind, he sees as a plant. We are being lulled into spending lifetimes contemplating unknowable things and being passive — armchair philosophers, who think we can get a handle on consciousness — and this is a deliberate ploy to occupy an intelligentsia that might otherwise be out on the streets actually doing something. I see a lot of truth in this idea. But as he says himself . . . ‘—the truth is hard to find. It has been made hard to find on purpose, and I am not claiming I know everything or anything.’’’ One would think such an elaborate “cunning plan“ (or “Batman Gambit“) was hardly necessary; all that was needed was to end the draft and the whole movement faded away. “Robin: But suppose something went wrong. Suppose Tut didn’t raise his voice, what then? Batman: I prefer not to think about those things, Robin. They depress me.” — Batman (TV series), “I’ll Be a Mummy’s Uncle.”
32. For more on Oswalt, see Gregory Hood’s review of his film Big Fan, here.
33. Conservatives call this “unintended consequences,” which admittedly is the go-to response to any proposal and a call to do nothing as a policy. For example, we now see the well-intentioned Scandinavian social welfare model upended by the inevitable, almost compulsive impulse to signal yet more moral status by welcoming the unassimilable darkies.
34. As James Kunstler and others have long noted, the spread of consumer capitalism (what he calls “the world of happy Motoring”) would indeed be an apocalyptic catastrophe, in ecological terms.
35. I feel the need to point out that such “games” have nothing to do with the man-o-sphere’s notion of “Game,” which is indeed the very epitome of making the game into a fight to be pursued oh so seriously.
36. Watts might have to admit that those hated English public schools did teach him something valuable.
37. See his Trump: The Art of the Deal (1987; Ballantine paperback edition, 2015). The hatred of “deals” is rife on both sides of the political spectrum, but takes its most unctuous form among the Neocons, who find it distasteful to deal with those dubbed “Evil,” calling it nothing but “appeasement.”
38. “At a California fundraiser last year, she reportedly compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. . . . Conservative commentator Paul Craig Roberts, an economist who served as assistant secretary of treasury under President Reagan, warned that Mrs. Clinton will have a difficulty backing down from a confrontation with Mr. Putin after calling him Hitler. “When you go that far out on a limb, you really kind of have to go the rest of the way,” he said in an interview at Infowars.com. “I don’t think there is any candidate that we can end up with as president that would be more likely to go to war with Russia than Hillary.” “Hillary Clinton’s hawkish position on Russia troubles both sides of aisle” by S. A. Miller; The Washington Times, June 9, 2015, here.
39. “It’s not about sexism: Camille Paglia on Trump, Hillary’s “restless bitterness” and the end of the elites,” Salon, May 5, 2016, here.
40. See Trevor Lynch’s review of The Dark Knight here.
41. “Take no thought for tomorrow. . . . Lay not up treasure on Earth”?
42. Batman (Tim Burton, 1989).