Ayn Rand’s 7 helpful tips for wrecking your marriage with a total, lifelong commitment.

That Robert Tracinski is a hard-working carney!Photo by: Paul Sableman

Robert Tracinski braced yet another cleansing ritual yesterday, seeking absolution from the goddess of his idolatry with his umpteenth mountain of cotton-candy praise. Kim Jong-un should have such an apple polisher.

Tl;dr, of course, but the gist is this:

Ayn Rand, who died nearly-penniless after having had most of her ‘investments’ devoured by currency inflation, was also the world’s greatest expert on business.

That’s just sad, particularly because it’s the only tune Tracinski ever plays:

Ayn Rand was the world’s greatest expert on everything – except for, you know, everything that matters in life.

So I thought I’d balance the scales with a quick look at how the world’s greatest expert on love, sex, marriage and family actually managed the actual motor of human civilization – marriage and family.

These are all matters of fact, so obsessively trying to ‘disprove’ them will give Rand’s harried Ci victims something to do. And while you may think it’s unfair for me to hold The Big O accountable for the wreckage of her marriage, it is beyond dispute that – unlike business or financial management – Ayn Rand was a world-class expert at wrecking marriages, her own and those of everyone who strayed near her for too long. The relative zeal of her inner circle can be quantified in divorces per decade of devotion to her. I wish I were making that up.

So: Herewith are the seven simple tactics Ayn Rand deployed with a methodical precision to assure that her marriage would be bleak, with both she and her husband miserable in it, that they would both die without issue, that she would destroy the marriage without permitting it to break, and that she and all her mincing minions would lie about all of this forever:

Ayn Rand’s 7 helpful tips for wrecking your marriage with a total, lifelong commitment.

1. Latch onto the first guy who can’t escape your clutches, even though you and he are temperamentally unsuited from day one.

2. Don’t let him have any children. When one of his brave warriors surmounts every obstacle set before (more…)

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If the very best fathers are Dsci, what would be the ideal DISC strategy for a Dutch Uncle to deploy?

There is no Ideal Man, but there is an ideal Dutch Uncle DISC profile: Dsci.

Photo by: Kaaren Perry

Hard to come up with a question more obtuse than that. But answering it repays effort, I think.

If you are an actual Dutch Uncle in an actual Dutch Uncle game – you cannot induce the pantomimes of loyalty with bribes or threats – what should you do to earn maximal loyalty from your team while incurring minimal mutiny?

That’s the way you should lead all the time, regardless of any arbitrary incentives.

And from all of this, it is easy to see that Ds is the ideal leadership strategy in every context. There is no Ideal Man, but there is an ideal Dutch Uncle DISC profile: Dsci.

Cautious ‘leadership’ – whether techo- or theocratic – must always amplify its compliance displays to tyranny, to starved bodies and stultified minds.

Only Driven leadership is actual leadership, and only Driven-Sociable leadership moves people always toward loyalty and away from mutiny.

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Sacrificing Diana: Prometheus was fed to the vultures. His captors warm their hands by the fire.

What’s better than an ideal? An idol. All belief, no follow-through. What’s even better than that? An icon. If you’ve got a pocket, you’ve got redemption. Now how hard was that?Image by: jay pangan 3

The hagiography of Princes Di is due for a twenty-year upgrade. This is me, from September 18, 1997, on her pitiable public sacrifice and on the ugly nature of human sacrifice generally. Where else can you go for stuff like this? —GSS

For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Here’s a little story, a tragedy in three acts in the briefest kind of synopsis:

Act I. A mysterious stranger comes to a troubled town. Act II. He stands down received wisdom and makes a few fast friends and a vast horde of stout enemies. Matters come to a head and in the final confrontation he wins by losing. Act III. After the stranger is gone the town is on its way to being healed. The end.

You’ve heard that story before, haven’t you? Maybe it was a western. Maybe it was a few dozen westerns. Perhaps a detective story or a space opera or a swashbuckler. Maybe a tale about knights errant besting tyrants or slaying dragons. A scientist who wins over a dubious public with a miracle cure. A scholar who proves an idea thought to be heretical. Columbus, for goodness sake, along with dozens of other great names of history we were taught to remember back when schools taught children to remember.

It’s the story of Socrates, of course, who drank the hemlock rather than renounce his truth. And it’s the story of Prometheus, who was chained to the rock and tormented by vultures for delivering unto humankind the fire of the gods.

And it’s the story of the messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, Rex Judaeorum.

And it’s because of the Nazarene that the story matters to us. There are two significant parts to the story, Acts II and III. In Act II, the stranger – the rebel, (more…)

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What’s the secret to raising generation after generation of great families? The right map.

Us against the world?This is how it’s done.

The only families who reliably raise great families – good kids who grow up to raise good kids – are what I call Testudo families: Dad has persuaded everyone in the family to progress in a metaphorical Testudo formation – everyone marches together with their shields held together overhead so each person is shielded from outside attack by all the others. They are defended not from poisoned arrows but poisonous ideas. A Testudo family is explicitly – and obviously – a distinct polis, a well-defended Hoplite redoubt.

Can’t spot ’em? Look for matching outfits from Dad to newborn, often home-made. Listen for uncommon first names, especially names sharing a theme. The easiest tell, though, is how they are organized: Dad is in charge, but everyone contributes, and everyone shares in the responsibility for maintaining, sustaining and defending the family.

How do you spot that? It’s in the way they walk together in public, for one easy tell. But they do everything that way, everyone fully-committed to Dad’s leadership.

The DISC of the Testudo family is simple:

Dad will be Dsci in that order – Mister Married. Mom will be Sdic or Sdci – with the the former being reliably more prolific, I would bet. They will be hugely committed to each other – astonished by adultery in others – and together they will raise their children in their combined pursuit of Dad’s peculiar social-repulsion strategy – the Testudo displays they invoke to declare their shared identity and to separate themselves from every alien influence.

Their objective is to live only Dad’s way, whether that idea is informed by some external doctrine or is self-adduced, and the relative success of the Testudo praxis – Testudo families for their children’s children – can be measured by the commitment of Mom and the kids to Dad’s ideal.

No mutiny? Not even a hint? Wonderful kids and grandkids, and an enduringly inspiring marriage.

Got mutiny? Dad is Disc or Dcsi – or even less reliably Sociable.

Every Dutch Uncle game is a family because every family is a Dutch Uncle game: Dad (more…)

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Oliver Stone’s “Talk Radio” is the most Ibsen-like, Greek-like drama ever committed to film.

We watched Talk Radio tonight, as a kind of rom-com palate-cleanser. It’s one of my all-time favorite films, but it is every bit a maledy, and I’ve been avoiding maledies.

Still. Wow. Always. The second act is weak, but the third act kills and kills and kills. Eric Bogosian has never done better. Oliver Stone has never done better. Even Alec Baldwin puts in a great performance. Every small choice in this film is perfect, all the way down to the titles’ typography.

I first saw it on HBO, soon after it was made. I taped it off the television to watch again and again, later acquiring it on VHS tape, later still at least twice on DVD. I have a copy of Bogosian’s original playscript. And, doubt me nothing, “I could name you every duck in Turtle Creek!” The movie is Greek like nothing written today is Greek:

This is me writing about Talk Radio on the order of twenty years ago:

I like brutal art – no mercy, no quarter. I like any sort of brutality on the part of the artist, by which I mean the refusal to temporize or euphemize or in any other way permit the audience to gloss over or ignore reality. Understand, I don’t seek a gratuitous squalor, but rather an unforgiving acknowledgment that reality is what it is. This is what I love so much in the plays of Henrik Ibsen, who gives me ambiguous or tragic endings and teaches me more about real life than a dozen treatises.

All that is by way of introduction to a recommendation: The film Talk Radio by Oliver Stone and Eric Bogosian. It’s the most amazingly brutal film I’ve ever seen, absolutely no let-up from start to finish. I have Bogosian’s original playscript, but the film screenplay is substantially richer. Moreover, Stone’s camera tricks are superb; the film plays huge implication games with reflections, focus-shifting, facial reactions, etc. Similarly, Stewart Copeland (of The Police) provides a deeply disturbing score. Finally, the actors – especially Bogosian as radio talk show host Barry Champlain – are outstanding.

The film is “based on a true (more…)

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Habituating reliability: The curse of the unreliable Dutch Uncle – and how to cure it.

Mutiny is the reliable proxy signal of unreliable leadership.Photo by: Javonni Christopher

There is a category of cinema we might as well call the dutch uncle movie.

(Yes, it is taxing to talk to me, since the same terms come up in different contexts. You’ll manage.)

A dutch uncle movie marries the bad dad yarn to the magic negro trope:

An underfathered single-mom slowly learns to appreciate the micro-doses of the until-then-disdained masculinity her son is covertly imbibing from the filthy old creep next door.

That’s how Hollywood praises fatherhood – by faint damnation. The story isn’t about the kid, nor even about the smelly curmudgeon. They’re decoys. The theme is this: Single-motherhood rules, because, if kids needs dads, they don’t need ’em very much. Accordingly, the character who is most changed by the end is whom? Abre los ojos.

I don’t like dutch uncles or magic negros in film – and not just because they turn Hollywood’s favorite deus ex machina, the magic wand, into a dirty joke. I despise the idea of magic as such – since it could not possibly be more anti-human-efficacy. And I am in lifelong rebellion against the entire class of notions that virtue is somehow injected into a person from the outside. And, obviously, anything that portrays an underfathered upbringing as anything but a (surmountable) handicap is a vicious lie – propaganda.

But the worst thing about dutch uncle movies is that they’re all actually, inadvertently about adult reliability – and they all get it wrong.

Mom is not just hugely unreliable at home, at work and in her cultivation of her son, she is unreliable everywhere – and not just now but all along, hence her divorce. She married the wrong guy? Duh! Femininity in cinema is unreliability all the way down.

And the curmudgeon is not wrong everywhere except where the script says he’s right. His process is mocked as being eccentric, but he pursues it scrupulously. Uniquely among the players we meet in Act I, he is unashamedly himself.

Both mom and the dutch uncle neighbor are unavoidably all-the-way role models, but mom is in mutiny against (more…)

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When Kate became Nora: “Calm down, get married, have kids, cultivate joy.”

A woman’s place is in the home –as CEO of a staff of dozens.

What would be Act IV of Kate and Leopold? Act I of A Doll’s House. And when Nora Helmer finally gets everything she’s been shaling for – there she is listening to Moon River from Kate McKay’s Lower Manhattan fire escape.

I’m in love with all of this, so it’s all fine with me.

Start with Meg Ryan, because that’s what set me spinning:

Sleepless in Seattle last night. Holds up well. The plot? Sam (Sd->Ds) meets Annie (Sc->Sd). Jonah’s underfathered mutiny is fun throughout.

That’s just hypnotizing chickens, DISC-summarizing cinema in the length of a Tweet. But that led me to this notion:

Is Meg Ryan’s entire career Sc->Sd?

Girl-next-door, cute and plucky but risk-averse, learns to let down her (gorgeous) hair, trust her gut and fall in love at last.

How strong is she that she could make a story that weak work so well again and again?

That’s a hasty generalization, to be sure – but still…

People call Helen Hunt the back-up Meg Ryan, but in fact Ryan has done excellently well at picking only Sc->Sd roles in her star turns, sticking Hunt and others with characters who would have hurt her bankability.

Now I want to know how much of this she understands…

We’re doing Kate and Leopold tonight: A woman’s place is in the home – as CEO of a staff of dozens.

And that’s what we did, so here is Kate and Leopold in DISC:

Leopold, a Di fop with Dc yearnings learns to be Ds while pursuing Kate, who only ‘takes the leap’ from Sc to Sd in the penultimate scene.

But I knew even before I started that that would be too simple an analysis. The argument of the story is explicitly anti-feminist: The problems of Sleepless in Seattle’s woman-of-a-certain-age are best solved in the past, when a woman’s place was not only in the home but in the kitchen or the nursery. Accordingly, it seems obvious to me that Kate would be Nora in no time.

But I saw even more in the film tonight than I have before. (more…)

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