Cleveland: Keeping Christmas at Home
Ramona: The War on Happy Holidays
Richard Day: Cold in Minnesota, and in the Hearts of Men
From Sam Smith.
Recent decades have been characterized by the invasive influence of an arrogant, autistic, and amoral class of late 20th century MBAs and similar members of the technocratic elite. This class junked sixty years of social democracy, helped wreck the Russian economy, made every American worker a temp-in-waiting, carpet bombed the English language, trashed every moral concept in their way, and twisted reality so effectively they even convinced many that they were sex objects. And they are everywhere. You will find them running schools and universities and managing once great museums. They talk mush, think mush, market mush, report mush, and defend mush. They attempt to make up in certitude what they lack in wisdom; they can't tell the difference between a phrase and a product; and they create infantile and self-serving distortions of economic principles that they declare to be the only principles in life worth observing. They are, in the end, just so many more televangelists, but with themselves as God. Perhaps worst of all, they are without the capacity for shame. Like other sociopaths, they are remorseless. The fraud, the huckster, the salesman are not new phenomena in America; what is new is that they now so strongly control every estate of our society. Those of a nature that would have once caused Americans to close the door, hang up, or say "no thank you," now teach our children, run our government, and tell us what to think. They are the Enron generation, filled with postmodern versions of Willy Loman: "He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He' s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine." America used to make things people wanted, said things that needed to be said, and fixed things, including itself, that needed fixing. Now it is out there in the blue, riding only on a smile and a shoeshine. The problem, as Willy Loman discovered, comes "when they start not smiling back - that's an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you're finished." We have assigned a wealth of practical tasks to those who think in abstractions, speak in cliches, use paperwork as a pacifier, and convert morality, policies and human aspiration into a bunch of numbers or legal restrictions. Perhaps most sadly - and most dangerously - they have learned their values from sources far removed from the thinking of those philosophers, writers and politicians who gave America its greatest moments.
From The Madwoman Of Chaillot:
Ragpicker : Countess, there was a time when you could walk around Paris, and all the people you met were just like yourself. A little cleaner, maybe, or dirtier, perhaps, or angry, or smiling-but you knew them. They were you. Well, Countess, twenty years ago, one day, on the street, I saw a face in the crowd. A face, you might say, without a face. The eyes-empty. The expression-not human. It saw me staring, when it looked back at me with it's gelatin eyes, I shuddered. Because I knew to make room for this one, one of us must have left the earth. A while later, I saw another. And another. And since then, I've seen hundreds come in -yes-thousands.
Countess: Describe them to me.
Ragpicker : You've seen them yourself, Countess. Their clothes don't wrinkle. Their hats don't come off. When they talk, they don't look at you. They don't perspire.
Countess: Have they wives ? Have they children ?
Ragpicker : They buy models out of shop windows, furs and all. They animate them by a secret process. Then they marry them. Naturally they don't have children.
Countess: What work do they do ?
Ragpicker : They don't do any work. Whenever they meet, they whisper and then they pass each other thousand-franc notes. You see them standing on the corner of the stock exchange. You see them at auctions - in the back. They never raise a finger - they just stand there. In theater lobbies, by the box office - they never go inside. They don't DO anything, but whenever you see them, things are not the same. I remember a time when a cabbage could sell itself just by being a cabbage. Nowadays it's no good being a cabbage - unless you have an agent and pay him a commission. Nothing is free any more to sell itself or give itself away. These days, Countess, every cabbage has it's pimp.
Countess: I can't believe that.
Ragpicker : Countess, little by little, the pimps have taken over the world. They don't do anything, they don't make anything - they just stand there and it take their cut.