6 responses to “Review of The Anatomy of Violence”

  1. Dennis McMillan

    Why, Mr. Olsen, you’ve scandalized my sensibilities by implying that our ruling plutocracy/warocracy is possibly composed of psychopaths. . . . Haven’t you heard the latest?– “Psychopathy is GOOD,” to paraphrase a recent concordance of eminent physicist-philosophers (who shall here remain unnamed for the purpose of avoiding libel), “because the essence of humanity’s existence/evolution has recently been discovered to be rooted in our self-creating universe’s desire to speed up its own entropic demise” (Roger Penrose’s recent theory notwithstanding), and of course we, as the prime agents of said self-creating universe, are doing a hell of a job in this regard, as even the most moronic of our cadre cannot fail to perceive. So, Sirruh, I beseech thee to “get aboard the bus” and leave-off your anti-psychopathy nay-saying–the next 30 years are going to be a hell of a plummet!

  2. Dick Cummins class of '70

    Eric: You left out a good title for list of – ‘Books about the genetic basis of ethics and politics:’

    ‘Conservatives without Conscience’, John Dean (yes him). About authoritarianism and the mentality of Repugs… this from one review on Amazon…

    “Although Mr. Dean gives us a very good look at right wing authoritarianism, he misses, perhaps because of the connection of the book’s concept with Barry Goldwater, the very cause of the take over of what used to be the Party of Abraham Lincoln by these people. It was the Southern Strategy, developed by Goldwater and furthered by Nixon, that caused this.

    While many other earlier conservative movements were more libertarian in nature, Southern politics has always been authoritarian. When the Republicans invited the Southern Dixiecrats in they did not realize the implications this would have and that they would take over.

    As Senator Lott said many times, the spirit of Jefferson Davis is alive and well in the Republican Party. You cannot be the Party of Lincoln and the Party of Davis. No tent is that big.

    Mr. Dean should have reviewed Dr Augustus Cochran’s book “Democracy Heading South: National Politics in the Shadow of Dixie” and Michael Lind’s book “Made in Texas: The Southern Takeover of American Politics” and Andrew Manis “Southern Civil Religions in Conflict: Civil Rights and the Culture Wars”.

    BTW – I’m a big E. O. Wilson fan as in the late ’70’ at the U. of Montana, I whiled away cold nights reading monthly arrivals from the Science Book Club. One was ‘Sociobiology’ by E. O. and I have read everything of his I could get my hands on since. Like I said – a big fan. dc

  3. Eric

    Gentlemen, thanks for your thoughts. My apologies to Dennis, first, for scandalizing his sensibilities. That said, wouldn’t scandalizing someone’s sensibilities help speed the self-creating universe’s own entropic demise? (And good on you if you can figure out what the hell Roger Penrose is talking about!) And Dick, thanks for the heads-up re John Dean’s book. Generally whenever I see that guy’s name, I wince and look away. But going by the title of his book, at least, he sounds like he may have something to say. Who’d have thought?

  4. Dick Cummins

    Dean hits the ‘authoritarian’ psychological profile of ‘conservatives’ hard and well. I would suggest that conservatives by nature want to protect what they have and the they way they got it for sure – lest something change, their privileged position or ‘means’ (Bush 41’s term) be taken from them.

    Would also suggest that lefties – not withstanding their rhetorical position regarding the lower echelons of class structure, once in power, become even more authoritarian than conservatives in order to ‘enforce equality’ and control everything – thus the Robespierre, Stalin’s and Castro’s and violent suppression of freedom, the secret police, torture chambers etc., just like the Hitler’s, Mussolini’s and Franco’s no?

    Think we are dealing with the canon of human dominance hierarchy here and the bromidic but sadly true -‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’

    Think also human dominance hierarchy is probably the theme of most tension in fiction.

    Leonard Cohen: “It’s the homicidal bitchin’ – that goes on in every kitchen – to see who will eat and who will serve?” from ‘Democracy’s Comin’ to America’…

    Speaking of crime, we were challenged by my writing group here in SD to ‘…create a despicable character and kill him off as gruesomely as possible – ‘just for fun’. And as I have been constrained by my ‘memoir veiled as novel’ project for some time, writing from a narratorial POV of a 4.5 to 9 year old, I bit.

    Thus the fun of ‘He Had It Coming or Business is Business’.

    Got the story idea sitting in O’Hare reading the paper about an ongoing spate of violence between Russian and Jewish mobs in the city out to control the adult entertainment businesses in parts of Chicago.

    I did not know anything about Chicago or the adult entertainment business or the mobs – nor had I ever bumped anyone off in my stories. Let the ole imagination roll and what fun to play around in that fictional sandbox – writing about revenge and hand guns and blood and guts without being put under observation!

    When I read the piece aloud at the writing group, this line brought down the house: “Neither Myron nor this author had ever blown anyone’s brains out before so…”

    I’ll e-mail it to you Eric – just don’t read while eating breakfast! Hah!

  5. Eric

    Dick, I look forward to reading more about Myron. Re conservatives and lefty impulses to dominance, i couldn’t agree more. Re human dominance hierarchy, etc., as the theme of most tension in fiction, I always thought it was sex, wanting some, not getting it, or if you want to get fancy, then love, wanting it, not getting it, and then of course in a tragedy, everyone dies. Or, looking at all of this from the perspective of Darwinian literary theory, aren’t we humans just gussied up chimps, and politics is basically just subordinate chimps forming alliances, trying to get a little when the big guy’s not looking? Then they eat him…..

  6. Dick Cummins

    Hah! Well said – pretty sure the sex thing is all about dominance hierarchy too.

    Humans are a modified arena species. The dominant bulls get as many girls as they can handle.

    Thus groupies.

    Even Gloria Steinem admitted it when asked what turned her on about a man she said:

    “Money, power and looks and in about that order – but you could invert it and I wouldn’t complain.”

    Check your in box for ‘He had It Coming or Business is Business’ – gruesome I tell you gruesome – but a satisfying – under dog comes out on top – ending!! dc

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