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5.0 out of 5 stars An incisive, thoughtful, literary analysis, June 5, 2011
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This review is from: The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (Hardcover)
The great irony that arrived on my iPad (via Kindle) with David Mamet's excellent book is that, as the dramatic authority of confidence games (e.g., House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner), for most of his life he was taken in by the confidence game of modern Liberalism. (Born and raised in Chicago, he still got conned.) Mamet is erudite, literary, and incisive in this set of linked essays. I rarely use the Kindle's highlight function, but I found myself highlighting more passages in the first third of his book than all 260 of the other books I have read on Kindle. His writing is that great. He resides in that specialized domain of an H. L. Mencken, or a Richard Mitchell (whose Underground Grammarian and several books are available free on the Web). He draws from Hayek and Sowell, among others, but is more fun to read. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

Chap. 1: "We cannot live without trade. A society can neither advance nor improve without excess of disposable income. This excess can only be amassed through the production of goods and services necessary or attractive to the mass. A financial system which allows this leads to inequality; one that does not leads to mass starvation."

Chap 2: "I will now quote two Chicago writers on the subject, the first, William Shakespeare, who wrote 'Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink'; the second, Ernest Hemingway, 'Call 'em like you see'em and to hell with it.'"

Chap 3: "The grave error of multiculturalism is the assumption that reason can modify a process which has taken place without reason, and with inputs astronomically greater than those reason might provide."

Chap 4: "College, while it may theoretically teach skills, also serves to delay the matriculation of the adolescent into society."

Chap 5: "No, the luckless product of our Liberal Universities, skill-less, will not touch that item his culture named taboo: work. So we see the proliferation, in the Liberal Communities, of counselors, advisors, life coaches, consultants, feng shui 'experts,' as the undereducated chickens come home to roost."

Chap 6: "A subjective system can never be shown to have failed. If its goals are indeterminate, general, and its progress incapable of measurement, how can its performance be faulted?"

Chap 7: "From the Left's point of view one need not work, and may not only Hope to be provided for, by this government, but may insist upon it."

Chap 8: "A Slave is not permitted to make these distinctions. Al of his behavior is circumscribed by the will of his master. The necessity of making distinctions is the essence of freedom, where one not only can but must choose...The essence of freedom was and is choice."

Chap 9: "...I was from Chicago. It was a rough city, ruled by Machine Politics, which ruled the state, and currently rules the country."

And that's just the first nine essays, in which I've highlighted many paragraphs. Mamet is essential reading for thoughtful conservatives and libertarians, and anyone else willing to stand the challenge of examining unchallenged assumptions. A tour de force. Thank you, David.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 7, 2011 8:01:10 PM PDT
Giancarlo says:
Machine Politics also describes the administration before this one as well.

Posted on Jul 10, 2011 8:55:07 AM PDT
someguy says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2011 3:34:41 PM PDT
Andre says:
Since you obviously didn't read his book, you have no clue as to all of the kinds of work he has done...to say he is merely "a writer" is silly...

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2011 3:35:16 PM PDT
Andre says:
Not in the Chicago sense, which is what Mamet is talking about in context.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2011 8:09:51 AM PDT
American says:
that opinionated guy says:
<<<has mamet, a writer, ever spent a day doing anything that many people would actually consider work? i doubt it.>>>

You assert that writers do not work, and do so via a fallacious argument, an ad populum. What a surprise...

If writers do not work, why then is writing a task for which many are specifically employed for wages? What would _you_ call what they do for thousands of hours on end, often resulting in a product that may be sold at a profit?

I guess you are simply subconciously envious that Mamet has found his way clear from under the insipid nonsense with which you remain encumbered.

Posted on Nov 21, 2011 10:06:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2011 10:11:48 AM PST
Customer says:
M. Alexander: talk about a discoverer of old truths. Well, better late than never; at least you discovered them.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2011 10:04:12 PM PST
Clearly, you have never tried to get anything published. That, my friend, is WORK.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2012 11:59:39 AM PDT
Does that excuse this administration? Lame argument. This review was excellent !!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2012 3:49:32 PM PDT
So writing is real work because people get paid for it and it can be hard? By those criteria "counselors, advisors, life coaches, consultants, feng shui 'experts'" all work, too.

There's always good reason to distrust people like Mamet who convert late in life from one set of dogmatic certainties to another. If he was foolish enough for so long to believe all the stuff that he now considers so stupid, shouldn't he be a little less confident in his own sense of the obvious? Then again, if he thinks that there is such a thing as The Liberal, then I don't need much more evidence that he isn't worth reading, do I?

Posted on May 13, 2012 7:03:54 PM PDT
Omer Belsky says:
"We cannot live without trade. A society can neither advance nor improve without excess of disposable income. This excess can only be amassed through the production of goods and services necessary or attractive to the mass. A financial system which allows this leads to inequality; one that does not leads to mass starvation."

Who is against trade, except some fringe loonies? The majority of Liberals like trade; what they want is merely a little more income redistribution (or its equivalents such as universal healthcare and free education).

And Shakespeare a "Chicago" writer?

Regards

Omer
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