Category Archives: Bookosphere

Embracing Defeat, Part I: Barnett’s Two Strategies

Note: This is part of a series of reviews for Blueprint for Action. The introduction and table of contents are also available.

Tom Barnett has been embracing losing.

Now it is time for him to embrace defeat.

barnett_embracing_defeat

The original , written by Dr. , is the story of Japan under the American Occupation. It argued that Japan recognized the destruction of the war as a result of an independent foreign policy, and so concluded that the way forward had to involve a dependent foreign policy. The rise of Japan since has proven the wisdom of this policy.

embracing_defeat

Japan, by embracing defeat, was applying a common military doctrine: don’t reinforce failure. Just as a wise general doesn’t lose more lives taking a hard pillbox, when there is an easier way to victory, a wise nation’s policy should flow like water, away from the tough high points and to the easy lowlands.

In Blueprint for Action, Dr. Thomas PM Barnett embraces strategic defeat, urging America to save her strengths by avoiding what is difficult. He specifically rejects ‘s vision of a “pagan ethos,” because it is too hard.

Just as Barnett says America won’t win in Iraq — globalization will win in Iraq, Barnett the solution for the Gap isn’t American occupation, but rather international cooperation.

barnett_kaplan_md

In this he is correct. However, Barnett’s defeatism, which has unfoled with his philosophy, has yet to rearrange some of his original concepts.

Tom Barnett‘s grand strategic vision is shrinking the Gap, expanding the Zone of Peace into the whole of the Zone of War.

barnett_core_gap_md

Dr. Barnett gives two strategies for shrinking the gap. The first is the “Reverse Domino Theory,” which is familiar to anyone who has read ‘s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and its extended final chapter, The World is Flat. In the Reverse Domino Theory, the rising connectedness of one country spills over into others, such as Chinese investment in nations that supply raw materials to the Middle Kingdom.

barnett_china_reverse_md

The second strategy, “The A-Z Rule Set for Processing Politically Bankrupt States,” fleshes out one paragraph in Barnett’s previous book, The Pentagon’s New Map

Perhaps the most important institutional challenge we fave in shrinking the Gap is the lack of international mechanisms to encourage and manage much-needed regime change there. The Gap suffers numerous bad leaders who have greatly overstayed their welcome, and the Core needs a series of international institutions to guide this process, such as Sebastian Mallaby’s “International Reconstruction Fund” be created along the lines of the International Monetary Fund. This organization would focus on pooling expertise and resources, such as peacekeeping forces, to facilitate the professing of failed states once bad leadership has been removed, How to identify such leaders for removal? Here is the example of the joint UN-Sierra Leone war crime special court shows the way. Once the court indicated Liberia president Charles Taylor for his activities in Sierra Leone, his fall was predetermined. This is exactly the sort of approach we should use for the Castros, Mugabes, and Qaddafis of the Gap. Let their own regional neighbors hurl the first charges, and then let the Core step in and force their downfall

As outlined in Blueprint for Action, the Rule Set starts and ends with the United Nations (from Security Council to International Criminal Court), has a lot of room for Inter-Governmental Organizations in the middle (from the G20 “Star Chamber” to the International Reconstruction Fund), with the American invasion and hand-over smack in the middle.

Because of American weakness, Barnett cedes critical portions of shrinking the gap to non-Americans, subsuming much of American foreign policy under a “global test.”

barnett_az_ruleset_md

Barnett’s philosophy naturally tries to maximize gains with a minimum of expenditure. Yet he stops here, not taking his philosophy to its logical conclusion.

How should Dr. Barnett embrace defeat even more? Stay tuned, and find out!


This has been Embracing Defeat, part of a series of reviews for Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett’s Blueprint for Action. The posts in Embracing Defeat are:

I. Barnett’s Two Strategies
II. Blood and Will
III. The Born Gimp
IV. Embracing Victory

Review of "PostSecret," edited by Frank Warren

Following my review of the PostSecret website, I was contacted as part of PostSecret‘s “blog-first marketing strategy.” Regan Books, a division of Harper Collins, was kind enough to send me a quality of the hard-bound, 276-page PostSecret book. tdaxp-friend Dave generously offered to review collection

postsecret_cover
Cover of “PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives”

by Frank Warren ($16.47, amazon.com) is a book about an inspiration which grew into a project. The young Frank was off at camp, mailed his family a postcard, and got home before the postcard did, leading to a lifetime of interest in the personal spaces involved in physical forms of communication.

harvard_hype_md
Don’t Believe the Hype

This book is about an art project/social experiment he assembled, in which he asked people to send him postcards with a secret on them..not necessarily anything world-shattering, just a secret they had not shared with others. The results range from tragic (people feeling sorry about what they never had a chance to say to those now dead) to the somewhat depressing (many, many postcards expressing loneliness and a feeling of abandonment) to the funny (one that cracked Dan up was a confession of physical attraction to Adolf Hitler- not his actions, just how he looked in a uniform) to the uplifting (toward the back of the book, a young woman writes her secrets on postcards, but, deciding this medium is impersonal enough to share comfortably, leaves them on her boyfriend’s pillow as she goes off to work, and receives his proposal of marriage before lunch). Truly, a something-for-everyone brawl of human fears, hates, loves, and lusts, in no particular order. One senses that any attempt to categorize PostSecret would have lost something in translation, much like an effort to straighten up a Zen garden or a Pinter play.

daydream_places_md
Sometimes I daydream about extraordinary places I might have seen

The postcards frequently feature artwork. Some are professionally printed cards which take on new meaning in the light of the message, others are collages of images and text. A few are clearly original drawings or watercolors, giving the message unique personalization. Some of the artwork is clearly R-rated or more, but always in a context of making the message clear and driving home that these are real people trying to communicate.

i_cant_stop_md
I told her I’d stop, but I can’t

This isn’t a book for everyone- one of Dan’s friends [who knew of the book beforehand and began reading by saying “This book is going to be big!” — tdaxp] was actively repulsed by it, thinking it perhaps just too open about what other humans really think and do. I’m of the opinion that this book has value just for its rich visual texture, and the messages are a bonus. If you know someone who really and truly loves people, despite all their quirks, this would be a fine Christmas gift.

Visit the website, or buy the book. After all, the postcards in this review came from a web post by the author.

PS: National Public Radio has a free segment on the book. Interested in other book reviews? Check out Trumpy Productions, or read the tdaxp reviews of Blueprint for Action and Freakonomics.

The Geographers New Map, Part III: Global Terrorism

Catholicgauze concludes his three part summary of a recent speech by Dr. Harm J. de Blij. Part I: Climate Change and Part II: China are also available, as is information about Dr. de Blij’s new book, Why Geography Matters.

This is the last installment of my rundown of by Dr. de Blij. The final part of his speech was spent on global terrorism. The most disappointing thing about his discussion on part three was that he only had a total of five minutes left to communicate his ideas about terrorism.

Terrorism: A main point made by Dr. Blij is that the terrorism of today is unlike the anarchists terrorist of the turn of the last century. Those were unorganized trouble-makers with a penchant for killing heads of state. Terrorists of today are the tip of a well organized effort spanning continents. They rely on failed-states and geographic isolation to thrive.

Pakistan and the former Afghanistan provide a great example of Dr. de Blij’s point. In the tribal areas communication is difficult so local control is a necessity. However, if the locals are crazies (in the words of Bishop Catholicgauze and not Dr. de Blij), it becomes a lot easier for a terrorist group like al Qaeda to set up shop.

A strong state which wishes to grow and connects into globalization would resist a reactionary group like al Qaeda and their ilk. It is then easier to understand why the same group that attacked the World Trade Center (al Qaeda) is actively trying to topple allies of the United States (the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) and America itself. They need failed states so they grow like a cancer and then spread to other countries and if strong countries resist and retaliate, the cancer dies.

An example which concerns Dr. de Blij is Ethiopia. Ethiopia borders the troubled , the three Somalias, and Sudan.

three_somalias
Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland

Ethiopia also is a gateway into Kenya and southern Africa with minimal interference from the Sahara Desert. Islamic terrorists have been slowly dragging Ethiopia into turmoil hoping to turn the whole horn of Africa into a giant center for operations. He citied the increase of Caucasian Chechens (who in a variety of reports I have learned are the most fanatical and “crazy” of all Jihadists) in not only Ethiopia, Iraq, and other hot spots but also those caught trying to bomb targets in South Africa. If a strong country like Ethiopia were to fall to the jackals of terrorism, nothing could stop them in the Horn of Africa.

As an aside Dr. Blij talked about the recent pirate raid on a cruise ship 100 miles off the coast of Somalia. He pointed out it would take a organized group with technology and intelligence to try to ambush a lone ship in the open ocean.

To wrap up his speech Dr. Blij stressed the importance of geography in planning. He blamed the current “mess” in Iraq to planners who knew nothing about the cultural geography of the country and pointed out how the position of Geographer has been empty at the State Department for years and has been vacant through many administrations. (Catholicgauze wishes to give a shout-out to anyone in the State Department and he offers nominates himself to the position of Head Geographer!)

Dr. Blij then wrapped up his speech by taking questions on China and Climate Change and went outside to sign books. I had other pressing affairs and had to skip out on the book signing. But I must stress he is correct in the assertion that the United States of America needs more geography education.

In the seven core areas of No Child Left Behind only one receives no geography funding. About half of the US school-attending population cannot locate Texas immediately on a map of the country and about a quarter of school-attending children cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map of the world (source: the latest NGS PSA). If our future leadership generations are more attuned to popular culture and illiterate when it comes to global affairs, apathy and false ideals like fascism or communism can easily led society astray down the tubes. It happened before to the British Empire and it can happen again. We need to stress a true liberal education with math, science, history, geography, and the arts. A well balanced citizenry will be better able to handle the problems that face us in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Great series, Catholicgauze!

"1491" and "Why Geography Matters" Around the Blogosphere

Stuart Berman of My Kids’ Dad and I must run in similar circles. His recent post discussed two books that I have just heard about

Stuart on 1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus:

1491

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann is a discussion about the forgotten civilizations of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. Mann refutes the notion that the Amazon is fragile and virgin, but that perhaps as many as 100 million indigenous peoples lived throughout the Amazon basin at any time within the last several thousand years. He shows evidence of the aggressive land management techniques used to tame these now wild places and how the civilizations were quickly laid waste by disease as Europeans engaged in trade with these civilizations. Mann also notes that the lack of available domesticable animals led to culture that had little resistance to disease since the great pandemics have typically been the result of disease mutations where the sicknesses have jumped from an animal species to human.

Mann also describes the diversity of cultures within the Americas, the Incas were very centralized and rigid – whereas tribes in the North East of North America were libertarian in nature

I read an Atlantic Monthly version of Mann’s work a few years ago. New tdaxp commentator Biz, proud owner of the new Confessions of a Bibliophiliac blog, gave it a quickie-review:

It’s about the Indians before Columbus came by and farked everything up. It’s the same type of book as 1421, in that “Holy shit, I had no idea” way. I’ve never been an American history fan, but this was really good. And researched like a mofo.

Stuart on Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America — Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism

why_geography_matters

Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America — Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism by Harm de Blij is a powerful discussion of the impact of geography upon human fate. He tries to show us that despite all of the debate today we are living in a golden age.

Harm de Blij warns us of the coming global cooling and that he has great faith in the ability of the Earth to recover from most types of events whether human induced or through some externality such as an asteroid. He states simply that climate change has been part of the planet’s life for 460 million years and that we are in the middle of a 35 million year ice age, which in the last 450,000 years features 4 periods of global warming (called interglacials) lasting each around 10,000 years separated by glaciations (cooling periods) of around 100,000 years each. The current warming period has lasted 13,000 years so we are due for a sudden and prolonged cooling period.

But Harm de Blij is also brilliant as he discusses topics such as the spread of global terrorism, which he states is fostered by failed nation-states and inaccessible terrain (such as the Pakistani mountain ranges). Just like Tom Barnett, he warns of the spread of terrorism into sub Saharan Africa due to these conditions.

Better stock up on blankets.

tdaxp Commentator Catholicgauze is currently writing a series on this same talk

And a post-script: Thanks to Kobayashi Maru for linking to metwice — and adding me to his blogroll! 🙂

Tom Barnett Against Connectivity Fundamentalists

Note: This is part of a series of reviews for Blueprint for Action. The introduction and table of contents are also available.

You Wanted More,” by Tonic, American Pie: Music from the Motion Picture, 29 June 1999, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/17/lyrics-for-you-wanted-more-by-tonic-from-the-american-pie-so.html [buy the cd].

Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating,” by Thomas Barnett, 20 October 2005, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0399153128/102-4292267-8637755?v=glance [author blog].

The Gaps in ‘Globalism,'” by Curtis Gale Weeks, Phatic Communion, 15 November 2005, http://www.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2005/11/the_gaps_in_glo.php (featured on ZenPundit).

Essentially, then, the “connectivity” is really the building of cheesecloth,” by Curtis Gale Weeks, tdaxp, 16 November 2005, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/11/13/blueprint-for-divisiveness.html#c355860.


I don’t know when I got bitter
Love is surely better when it’s gone
Because you wanted more
More than I could handle
And a life that I can’t live”

– Tonic, “You Wanted More”

“The train’s engine can’t travel any faster than the caboose.”
– Thomas PM Barnett, “Blueprint for Action”


My previous reviews of Dr. TPM Barnett’s have been negative. I have criticized him for questionable statements on the ICC and his blindness to the consequences of highlighting the socially liberal parts of his philosophy. It is this last review that CGW objects to

As he comments at tdaxp

As long as gaps are built in the process of globalization, it will not be globalization — even if the gaps are made diffuse throughout the world rather than allowed to follow the “old borders” of the “old, unglobalized world” as they now do.

More technically, Curtis writes on his own blog that

A lack of connectivity, of feeling equal relevance within a system, produces opponents to that system; and, self-destructive behaviors by individuals within a system — such as drug abuse and financial insolvency — inhibit the overall economic success of the entire system.

Specifically, he is referring to homosexualists:

Dan’s reasoning is, in a nutshell, this: We can’t reasonably expect to entice homophobic nations into increased connectivity with the U.S. if we list “homosexual rights” as one of our core values.

for gay men and lesbians and their families, the concern is not at all petty; but the globalist designs of some would disregard it for the sake of expediency

By “homophobic nations” Curtis seems to mean “political societies without substantial pro-homosexualist elements.” His prescription, while very well written, is wrong and dangerous.
First, and most worrying for Mr. Weeks, would be who such homosexualist policies would encourage in the Gap, the Seam, and the New Core. In Dr. Barnett writes of a general male preference for religious parties, and a general female preference for order parties:

While men tend to vote according to religion and ethnicity in such situations, women tend to vote for those candidates who represent law and order. (258)

But as elections in Egypt

muslim_tech_sisters

and Iraq show, women will support religious parties in large numbers. And they will vote for reactionary parties.

You want fast, efficient, and popular “law and order” Sharia? Push homosexualism.

The danger is, of course, that the stronger forms of connectivity (economic, technological [and cultural! — tdaxp]) will trigger disagreements and crises that overwhelm the two sides’ ability to handle them, given their limited political understanding and security bonds. Here, mistakes can be made, because perceptions different greatly, no matter ow compelling the underlying economic rationales. (238)

You want the forces of good to win the Muslim Civil War? Be patient.,

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built as a democracy [and certainly not as a “progressive” society! — tdaxp]. (236)

at home:

There are plenty of political leaders in the Core who understand all too well that the real struggle is not between Islam and the West but with Islam regarding its convergence with the West and the historical forces of globalization. Nonetheless, plenty of these same politicians cannot exhibit the same patient at home that they might demand of American or European foreign policy in the Middle East… but again, can we show the necessary patience to let Muslims [and traditionalists generally — tdaxp] living the West make these necessary changes on their own schedule, or must we force confrontations and showdowns? (293-294)

and abroad

The one danger that all advocates of globalization recognize as threatening its existence is merely the divergence between winners and losers, both within states and among them.
What can prevent these splits from overwhelming globalization’s progress? Rules. The most important are rules within states that mandate — in my phrase — that the train’s engine (globalization’s winners) can’t travel any faster than the caboose (globalization’s losers). (255)

You want to win the Global War on Terrorism? Acknowledge that the world isn’t perfectly built to suit your desires, and work with the powers that are, both in the New Core

[Wrong reactions to 9/11] also decrease a lot of useful social, economic, and political connectivity with New Core pillars right now when we should be drawing them closer. (231)

and the Gap

Is [the Islamic world] a civilization that just wants to be left alone or fears being left behind?

I believe it is the latter, and that, as many experts on the region point out, the revival of religiosity throughout the Gulf area reflects a population’s desire not simply to resist our cultural “pollution” but to find some way to deal with undesired influences while adapting to much-needed and greatly desired economic connectivity that virtually all citizens there hope will lead to political pluralism over time. (270)

… not the imaginary homosexualist street that you might wish exists

My rage is not the type of rage that will seek outlet in instigating riots, or committing murder or acts of terrorism, or, now, in self-destructive behavior. Yet many in this American Gap might do these things, particularly self-destruct. A lack of connectivity, of feeling equal relevance within a system, produces opponents to that system; and, self-destructive behaviors by individuals within a system — such as drug abuse and financial insolvency — inhibit the overall economic success of the entire system. Current moves to ban gay marriage and continuing efforts to allow the discrimination against gays in the workforce are moves to institutionalize long-sustained gaps — a reaction against the greater connectivity of gays within American society — and are thus not terribly different in motive from the isolationist reactions of some state leaders or the terrorist groups who seek world dominance in order to avert the influences which come with globalization. They are the establishment of an exclusionary status quo which benefits most those who support that status quo. (Weeks)

Criticizing the “globalist plan that seeks increased international connectivity while disregarding internal gaps,” Curtis Gale Weeks would ignore the “expediency” of disregarding homosexualist concerns in order to focus on other things. But it’s not “expediency”: it’s the economy-of-force. Our enemy wants to alienate potential friends from us. The Weeks plan plays into that. We should stand up to al Qaeda and forge cultural connectivity.

If we eventually lose the Global War on Terrorism, an active policy homosexualism will join our support for the Saudi Tyranny and and the Drug War as…

… just another one of those crazy American obsessions that generate a lot of suffering and death distant from our shores… (Barnett 242)

Indeed, Dr. Barnett writes that the war of ideas is so problematic as to be a fight wort avoiding

Second, we should abandon efforts to create a U.S. Government-wide “strategic communication policy” designed to win the “hearts and minds” of young males inside the Gap who are perceived to be at risk for becoming terrorists. Such an approach only references the notion that somehow globalization is really all about Americanization, when it isn’t. We have no more need to explain ourselves culturally or politically to the Gap than do the citizens of Brazil, China, or India, three countries whose competitive rise in the global economy increasingly presents more challenges to Gap states than do the policies of an established Core power like America. (231-232)

Attacking traditional cultures with the homosexualism is especially disastrous because, while attempts to export progressivism will fail, alienating those cultures that CGW calls “homophobic” destroys the visceral attraction that globalization should have

That sense of globalism, or a belief in the inherent goodness of connectivity, is what drives globalization’s advance far more than either technology or the rare instances where military power is exerted. (254)

If homosexualists want to “connect” the world into their beliefs, they should wait as Barnett suggests…

So when a country has achieved a fairly broadband economic connectivity for its population, the discussion shifts from the quantity of connectivity (How much globalization?) to the quality of that connectivity (What mix of globalization?). (194)

Especially as efficient legal codes such as Sharia are enticing anyway…

Connectivity with the outside world generates higher transaction rates between the local economy and the global one. Those higher transaction rates demand a more efficient response from the government’s legal system over time, forcing reform and maturation of the economic rule set, with the most important ones being property rights and contract law. (260)

.. as a means of society glue: connecting a society with itself.

Well, we shouldn’t be surprised that an era that demands a grand strategy of shrinking the Gap would go hand in hand with a renewed focus on proselytizing global faiths.

Yesterday’s Protestant work ethic defined capitalism’s rise in the Core, providing what political scientist Robert Putnam calls “bonding social capital” that knits an existing community together, but today’s Protestant evangelicalism may well define capitalism’s ultimate triumph in the Gap, providing the “bridging social capital” that links faith-based communities throughout the Core to similar ones inside the Gap. So not only will the twenty-first century’s religiosity far outpace that of the twentieth, to the amazement of social scientists the world over, the ultimate impact of more religion will not be sectarian violence designed to drive religious communities apart, but rather increased social and political connectivity between Core and Gap that will definitely speed up the convergence of civilizations and — by doing so — facilitate globalization’s spread around the planet. (298-299)

Curtis Gale Weeks is concerned about international and intranational connectivity, but he focuses on secular-social-sexual connectivity. Political Religion has a real shot at being central to the new globalization, and provoking reactionaries by trying to go too fast could create a world many would not enjoy.

So perhaps all social liberals have to do is wait a generation or so before they can safely export their ideology to the Gap

If a Gap state simply hasn’t developed to the point where it can handle the onslaught of connectivity that globalization provides, a Go Slow ideology makes sense; otherwise we’re talking about the high likelihood that outside forces will take advantage of the lack of sufficient rule sets within a society to lock in unfair transactions [such as strict Islamic Law — tdaxp]… (195)

and that once a country is rich, all the dreams of a progressive politics will be realized

It’s only when the bulk of a society’s economic development reaches a certain plateau, typically between $5,000 and $10,000 per capita GDP, that you begin to see the public start becoming more demanding of pluralism and openness from its government. (195)

Well, maybe

BushElected_EnglandResponds

While I have criticized parts of Blueprint for Action before, Barnett is right that we can’t expect everything now. Connectivity-fundamentalism — forcing every society to be as “open” as every other — isn’t just a false definition of connectivity and globalization..

Should [globalization] be feared by the world for its homogenization of culture? I guess that would depend on whether you think California is a carbon copy of Alabama or that Texas and Massachusettes are indistinguishable. Convergence does not result in homogenity, but in a superficial of external similarities, much like that light brown face that will someday define the bulk of the American population. (289)

… it’s a dangerous one. The Blueprint for Action is a plan for “winning” over decades, not years. Attempts to speed up the world victory of one’s pet political projects are likely to end in tears. The Phatic Communion apologetic for homosexualist agitation is exactly what is not needed…

… except for the enemies of freedom, like al Qaeda, “state leaders or the terrorist groups who seek world dominance in order to avert the influences which come with globalization.” They’d love us to go 200 km / h. And it would be as deadly for us as driving in the wrong lane.

Review Center of Thomas PM Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating

On Sunday I finished Dr. Barnett‘s Blueprint for Action.

blueprint_for_action_md
A Future Worth Creating?

I’d been following this book for a while, celebrating his return to new blogs in February and congratulating TPMB on the first draft cover in March

While hyper-luminaries like Mark Safranski are able to encapsulate BFA’s big ideas into well written posts, I’m not that able.

So instead I will try to write several vignettes or mini-reviews, focusing on distinct aspects of his work. In tone these will be similar to Curzon’s critique of Barnett’s Taiwan policy, examining the trees and leaving the forest (for now) to the best

Without further ado…

Additionally, my series Embracing Defeat examines the themes of Blueprint for Action by using videographs of a recent speech by Dr. Barnett

barnett_embracing_defeat

The European Dream, by Jeremy Rifkin

Jeremy Rifkin’s “The European Dream: Europe Reaps the Whirlwind,” with a New Chapter by the Author: “Dhimmitude for Dummies

Combining two photos from South Dakota Politics about the French riots with an earlier tdaxp pic, I present the future of the Old Continent:

european_nightmare_md
The European Nightmare

Interestingly, the author of the similarly europhile The United States of Europe wil be visiting UNL later this academic year.

In the Eyes of a Child

In the Eyes of a Child,” by JP, Japundit, 4 August 2005, http://japundit.com/archives/2005/08/04/971.

Eyes of a Child,” by JP, Japundit, 2 November 2005, http://japundit.com/archives/2005/11/02/1442/.

This was covered earlier, but it deserves front-page treatment. The flash animation is particularly beautiful.

eyes_of_a_child

Japundit contributor Danny Bloom has recently published a Japanese edition of inspirational message book In the Eyes of a Child, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, with longtime Japan resident Amy Chavez as the publisher with her Dollar Bookstore website.

The new edition is in English and Japanese, wonderfully translated by Mitsuko Ebihara in Tokyo, and it comes in the format of a deck of 52 bilingual cards that can be used for learning English at home or in the classroom.

The book sells for just one American dollar, and orders can be placed over the Internet using PayPal. The intended target audience for the Japanese edition is Japanese learners of English, but native English speakers can also enjoy the inspirational message it contains. Danny says the book has been translated so far into Chinese, Japanese and Korean, and he is hoping to publish 25 translations online eventually.

Watch the flash or buy the new edition.

New Subjectivism and New Objectivism

Today I was talking to a graduate student in English literature about the generations of criticism. She commented that a while ago New Criticism was established, and then New Historicism, but she did not know what would be next step of literary criticism.

She may not, but I do:

New Subjectivism

While New Criticism looks only at the text, and New Historicism looks only at the text and the history of the period when the text was written, New Subjectivism looks only at the text and the reader. Another way of saying this is that while New Criticism strives to read nothing into a text, and New Historicism tries to read only the history of the period into the text, New Subjectivism reads only the reader into the text.

Derisively called “14-year-old Girl Criticism,” The New Subjectivism is actually a rapturous breakthrough of burning brilliance.

For instance, imagine a tenured, middle aged professor wishes to examine Hamlet. Boring old methods of criticism would look at the words that make up the text, what is not said, history of Elizabethean England, etc. The New Subjectivist professor, however, is wiser. He will elegantly read himself into the text, discovering which correct represents him and proceeding accordingly.

For instance, compare the openings of two theoretical criticisms of Hamlet: one of the atrophied ancien regime which now controls the Literary Academy, the other our imaginary prof’s groundbreaking New Subjectivist interpretation

Old Way:

Hamlet is the story of a Danish prince. It was written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and is infused with the assumptions of that time. For instance, troublesome women were often labeled “melancholic” and we can see in Hamlet that…

The New Subjectivist Way

I am Hamlet. Recently, I took a sabbatical from my crushing, under-appreciated duties at the University to see my parents. God I hate my students, especially the whiny know-it-all grad students. I get so worried about what stunt they will approach next time that I often imagine things. Anyway, as I approached the ol’ homestead…

See the difference? Mathematically, we might say “Old Ways : New Subjectivism :: Poison : Food”

One method of New Subjectivism will be “Forensic New Subjectivism,” also known as “New Objectivism.” FNS/NO will do New Subjectivism backwards, taking a New Subjectivist work and trying to read the reader out of the story. Here is where the delicious fruits of New Subjectivism can be savored like the tasty oranges they are.

Foolish old-style critiques assume that first-person stories such as The Great Gatsby, I Am Charlotte Simmons, and The Rule of Four are texts in themselves. They are not! New Subjectivism teaches us that in every case, all “first person” literature is but a New Subjectivist criticism of a third-person Ur-text. The duty of the Forensic New Subjectivist / New Objectivist will be to derive as much of the tabula primaeval as possible. For instance, taking F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby the FNS/NO will be to write The Gatsby Story, for I Am Charlotte Simmons a book entitled She Is Charlotte Simmons, etc.

PS: After writing this I learned that The New Subjectivism already exists in economics and that the term New Objectivism has been seized by the Old Masterists. Bah!