Who Determines The Winning Narrative?

What makes for a winning story? For example, the poets gave us the narrative of WWI to which all other English-language narratives must bow. Why did that happen? Was it due to the poets vibrating at a higher level than everyone else (a la Michael Beckwith)

In her 2007 book, Fighting Different Wars: Experience, Memory, and the First World War in Britain, Janet Watson wrote:

[T]he disenchantment of the infantry soldier retrospectively became the story of the First World War in England…. This retrospective view, however, does not reflect the ways people talked about participating in the war when it was being fought. The war itself was overwhelmingly popular, and the nation came together…

The received history of the war starts with idealistic volunteers and ends with shattered veterans and names carved in stone on memorials. This story, though, does not reflect popular views during the war itself… [H]ow did the story of the disillusioned trench soldier establish itself as the history of the war?

…[The working classes saw the war as work while the middle classes saw it as an opportunity for professional advancement while the upper classes saw it as service]. After the war, people who had seen the war in terms of service were most likely to frame their memories as a story of disillusionment.

What’s most likely to blow a narrative into power or away from power? Events, dear boy, events. Joe Biden’s catastrophic debate performance against Donald Trump June 27, 2024, was so devastating because it confirmed widespread but officially denied under-news narratives about Biden’s dramatic decline in cognitive ability. The caricatures of Biden proved correct and that embarrassed political elites such as Joe Scarborough and Tom Friedman.

My evolutionary friends say we’re wired to resonate with certain narratives. They make us feel good. Nineteenth century English lawyer James Fitzjames Stephen wrote that “novels operate most strongly by producing emotion.”

Tim Parks wrote for the July 18, 2024 edition of The New York Review Of Books about the 2023 book, Selected Writings of James Fitzjames Stephen: On the Novel and Journalism:

Novel readers [pay] for their pathos. And authors are all too willing to supply it… [Novelists] arouse pity to sway debates that should be decided on evidence and logic… [N]ewspapers enjoy great political influence, without demonstrating the sort of responsibility and impartiality that might legitimize it: “Statements of the most vehement kind are made upon any or no authority” and presented in a “showy, noisy, clever, and picturesque” style that in one case has a dead dog being described as a “decayed specimen of canine mortality.”

…Journalists, like novelists, labor under an obligation to be entertaining. They play to “the impatience which every one feels of being governed in a prosaic way,” thus reinforcing opinions readers already have.

…A fiction writer, Stephen reflects, “is almost always a person of more than average sensibility, and these qualities are almost certain to put their possessor more or less in opposition to the established state of things.” Hence novelists collude with newspapers to exaggerate “the failure, the prejudices, and the stupidity of the executive,” in part because this is a popular stance to assume. (“The course which [journalists] take,” Stephen insists, “is, and always will be, determined by the public.”)

But just as one wouldn’t want to instill in readers a “blind admiration” of “the institutions under which they live,” to encourage them to be “discontented with and disaffected to” those institutions “cannot but be a serious evil.” “The rule of truth is the only safe rule.” But can novels be trusted to observe it, given the allowances always made for “the necessities of the story”? (Stephen recalls how Charlotte Brontë regretted having exaggerated the cruelty of the school described in Jane Eyre, thus causing considerable distress to its charitable founders.)…

“Most writers are so nervous about the tendencies of their books, and the social penalties of unorthodox opinion are so severe…that philosophy, criticism and science itself too often speak amongst us in ambiguous whispers what ought to be proclaimed from the house tops.”

According to Larry McEnerney, the former Director of the University of Chicago’s Writing Program, “There are conversations moving through time and there’s a bunch of people and they get to say what knowledge is.”

Do the same people who decide knowledge also decide the narrative to which all other narratives must bow?

That’s the supply side. There’s also a demand for narrative. How well a narrative meets the demand will affect its power. For example, most people under duress love narratives that blame out-groups for their problems.

Groups with the most power likely enjoy disproportionate success at shaping narratives that don’t clash with the vital interests of people hearing the narratives. I don’t believe we evolved to be gullible. Smart people can’t get you to believe something that is against your best interests. We have powerful instincts for detecting manipulation.

When I think about major news stories, I’m often struck by the uniform narratives we receive from the elite media. Think about the biggest news stories of the past decades and how the media coalesced around one dominant narrative: the rise of Barack Obama (messianic black guy whose election redeems America from racism), Donald Trump (unruly outsider who threatens our democracy), Supreme Court (taking away our rights), Ukraine war (caused by Putin’s megalomania in the Western view, caused by NATO expansion in the Russian, China and realist view), Russiagate (Russia is messing with our domestic affairs), China (its rise threatened democracy and now its decline threatens democracy), and the rise of Christian nationalism (scary).

Human rights law has become increasingly popular over the past 25 years and so we have an increased supply of experts jockeying for status and this creates incentives for hyperbolic narratives on things like Israel vs Gaza. As the number of genocide scholars increase, the number of “genocides” must increase to meet the demand, and the newer the “genocide,” the better. Immediacy has cash value. Genocide scholars need jobs too, and to increase demand for their services, they need hot new “genocides” particularly when they can blame the “genocide” on an “imperial” power.

Amanda Alexander, senior lecturer in law at Australian Catholic University, wrote in the 2023 book, Making Endless War: The Vietnam and Arab-Israeli Conflicts in the History of International Law:

The laws of war reflect imaginaries of war—the narratives that are told of war by strategists, humanitarians, lawyers, and politicians. For much of the history of the modern laws of warfare, the dominant image of a proper war was that of an orderly war between uniformed men. In the twentieth century, however, Mao and his followers described another form of war—a revolutionary people’s war, a war that involved an entire, heroic, people, fighting for a just cause against imperialist oppression. This type of war was epitomized by the Vietnam War and then by the Palestinian struggle, as it reshaped itself according to the Vietnamese model. These causes appeared just—and not only to the colonial and postcolonial world. Western observers increasingly supported these battles against imperialism. Moreover, they decried the counterinsurgency techniques and attacks on civilians that were used to oppose people’s wars. As these techniques lost legitimacy, they also started to look illegal.

The result, at the Diplomatic Conference, was a recognition of the justice of people’s wars and an acknowledgment of their participants as combatants. At the same time, the Conference allowed combatants to move between civilian and combatant roles, while considerably increasing the protection owed to civilians. These developments represented a fundamental change to the rules and the understanding of warfare—a change that, despite the long resistance from military states, has now become central to international humanitarian law.

Much of the talk about a new cold war with China comes from International Security scholars who need jobs. Michael Hirsh wrote for ForeignPolicy.com May 7, 2024:

So why are so many observers putting the worst possible face on the conflict?

In an interview with Foreign Policy, [Randall] Schweller said that when he first entered the academic job market in 1993, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, international security (IS) studies were fizzling fast. Now, they’re hot again.

“Promoting the idea of Cold War 2.0 definitely promotes the careers of IS scholars,” Schweller wrote in an email.

If reality doesn’t create a strong demand for your services, you must manufacture one. Psychiatrists, for example, widen definitions of mental illness so that they have more income, power and prestige. Normal sadness becomes a disease for which medicines are prescribed.

Professions just like individuals are primarily out for themselves.

The more professional moralists your society produces, the keener they promote a sense of sin among the people so that their services receive more demand, income, power and prestige.

After survival, the number one human drive is for status.

A Ph.D. friend says: “Seems simple but it really cracks the code on…maybe everything. I became a …. expert and then suddenly I see it everywhere. Sometimes it’s about being able to spot things more easily. But perhaps more often it’s about manufacturing what I need to imagine myself relevant. Good thing I left academia!”

When I look at a garden, the first thing I look at is its drainage due to my three years working in landscaping from 1985-1988.

When something big is happening, people want to jump on the bandwagon explains statistics professor Andrew Gelman:

…a big part of the appeal of the Nudge phenomenon is not just the lab studies of cognitive biases, not just the real-world studies of big effects (ok, some of these were p-hacked and others were flat-out faked, but people didn’t know that at the time), not just “nudge” as a cool unifying slogan that connected academic research to policy, not just potential dollars that flow toward a business- and government-friendly idea, but also the idea of Nudge as an academic success. The idea is that we should be rooting for Thaler and Sunstein because they’re local boys made good. The success is part of the story, in the same way that in the 1990s, Michael Jordan’s success was part of his story: people were rooting for Michael to break more records because it was all so exciting, the same way people liked to talk about how world-historically rich Bill Gates was, or about the incredible Tiger Woods phenomenon.

Sometimes when something gets big enough, its success becomes part of the story, and I think that’s what happened with Nudge and related intellectual products among much of social-science academia. One of their own had made it big.

Another example comes up in political campaigns and social movements. Brexit, Black Lives Matter, Barack Obama, Donald Trump: sometimes the story becomes the story. Part of the appeal of these movements is the story, that something big is happening.

A scholar replies to my inquiry: “Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory is the classic account of the war narrative. Janet Watson’s Fighting Different Wars: Experience, Memory, and the First World War in Britain might be closer to what you want – I think she argues about how one narrative emerged to triumph, and she attributes part of that to Fussell.”

A friend says: “Paul Roth. Lots of reviews and discussion of this book – The Philosophical Structure of Historical Explanation.”

Another friend says: “Hayden White was a “historiographer” of the 1980s. He was influential, wrote a dozen books or so. He popularized the idea/term “metahistory,” and in general he leads his readers to a skeptical position.”

Amanda Alexander wrote in 2021:

Although White may, at first, appear to give the historian choices in how to employ and, therefore, give meaning to, the events of history, White attributes these choices of plot to precognitive ways of seeing the world — ways which are often shaped by the historian’s own historical milieu. This precognitive commitment will affect all the other narrative choices the historian makes. Moreover, the whole process of creating narrative history is described by White as a subconscious desire to turn a meaningless reality into an imaginary order of coherence and integrity.

Amanda Alexander wrote in 2016:

The Great War introduced, for the first time, a large contingent of educated, scholarly men, steeped in the motifs and themes of a classical education, to battle. Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Erich Maria Remarque are the best known of these war writers; their work has been established as the canon of war literature. Their poetry and memoirs replaced traditional tales about honorable and patriotic warfare with a new story of disillusionment and betrayal, horror and pointlessness. They portrayed a war where young men were sacrificed by the “Old Men,” their patriotic fathers and mothers, wives and sweethearts.

This experience was not the only possible description of the Great War, and the trench poets were not the only people who were writing about the war. Scholars have pointed out that the trench poets produced only a small part of the literature that emerged from the war. They have drawn attention to the much larger body of work produced by civilian writers and the work of female writers and questioned the trench poets’ depiction of the front as the understanding of the Great War. Moreover, they have shown that this narrative, this interpretation of the war, was not an immediate reaction. Although some of the accounts of disillusionment and betrayal began to appear towards the end of the war, it was only with the sudden flood of books around 1927 that this particular story became established. It was at this time, the end of the 1920s, that “the disillusioned trench soldier emerged as the ‘authentic’ voice of the Great War.” From this moment on, their narrative pushed out the other accounts and became the only possible story about the war. Indeed, Watson shows that other experiences of the war had to be recast in these terms to be accepted as legitimate accounts of the Great War.

In this now ascendant narrative, one of the most common themes was the juxtaposition of the trench poet’s pity and love for fellow soldiers with antagonism towards the non-combatant population.

Anna Sussman wrote:

In The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe uses the concept of a discreet, hypocritical Victorian gentleman to symbolize the press in the late 1950s and ’60s. Instead of giving its readers the whole story, the press, acting as one giant entity, decides what the public must know then delivers it, edited and retouched to perfection.

It was as if the press in America, for all its vaunted independence, were a great colonial animal, an animal made up of countless clustered organisms responding to a central nervous system. In the late 1950’s (as in the late 1970’s) the animal seemed determined that in all matters of national importance the proper emotion, the seemly sentiment, the fitting moral tone, should be established and should prevail; and all information that muddied the tone and weakened the feeling should simply be thrown down the memory hole. In a later period this impulse of the animal would take the form of blazing indignation about corruption, abuses of power, and even minor ethical lapses, among public officials; here, in April of 1959, it took the form of a blazing patriotic passion for the seven test pilots who had volunteered to go into space. In either case, the animal’s fundamental concern remained the same: the public, the populace, the citizenry, must be provided with the correct feelings! One might regard this animal as the consummate hypocritical Victorian gent. Sentiments that one scarcely gives a second thought to in one’s private life are nevertheless insisted upon in all public utterances.

Ed Caesar wrote for British GQ May 15, 2018 about Tom Wolfe’s reporting on the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination:

[Tom Wolfe:] “I went to Little Italy and everybody thought that their natural enemies had done it. You know, the Italians didn’t like the Jews so they blamed it on the Jews. The Jews blamed it on the Chinese. The Chinese blamed it on the Italians. And I thought these stories were hilarious. But when I got back to the newspaper… I’m sitting there looking for my piece and it’s not there. All they wanted was little old ladies collapsing in front of St Patrick’s Cathedral. That was it. They didn’t want any turmoil in the population over who did it, and that kind of thing. Newspapers are the last redoubt of people who want to observe the niceties. It’s strange. Something big happens, and whatever the proper reaction should be, that’s what you get.”

…Wolfe sees – has always seen – individuals as representatives of their group. The Italians blamed the Jews who blamed the Chinese. People are first and foremost a member of a race, or a class, or a certain stratum of society. In this regard, he’s a sociologist.

Wolfe explained as much to me when we talked about his novels. “You need psychology. But you don’t have a choice: that vertical line [of psychology] is going to intersect with this broad plane which is the society. And nobody can be a true individual because whatever you want to be is going to be pushed around and changed. We are all tremendously affected by the society that we’re in.”

[Gay Talese recalled:] “We spent a few hours together – going from downtown Manhattan (Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy); then came uptown, walking around the theatre district in the West Forties, uptown toward Columbus Circle… And I personally did not see much reaction at all from New Yorkers. I didn’t see anybody crying in the streets, didn’t overhear anybody lamenting aloud about the fatal shooting in Dallas etc. Yes, people had heard the news over the radio, or people were talking about the event among themselves as they stood waiting for a traffic light on a street corner; but there was no sign of the mournful masses that would later be the signature image on television.

“After I reported what I’d seen in New York, the editor didn’t want me to write anything. What I’d seen, or had not seen, did not conform to the ‘expected’ or ‘ideal’ response the situation seemed to call for, at least in the editor’s eyes. So there was no story in the Times by me that day. Nor, as I recall, was there anything by Tom Wolfe in the Trib that day. Here, on the same assignment, were two young men who would be identified as ‘New Journalists’ covering the same story and [on this great, headline-making day] getting nothing about it in print. We could not write what we saw, because we didn’t see what the editors and TV directors ‘saw’.”

Who determined that Dallas was the city of right-wing hate and that was the prism through which to understand the Kennedy assassination carried out by a communist?

Video description: “Larry McEnerney…led this session in an effort to communicate helpful rules, skills, and resources that are available to graduate students interested in further developing their writing style.”

Here are some excerpts from this talk:

In a positivistic world, knowledge is just built up over time, and anytime you find out something that people didn’t know, you get to just add up to this model, and knowledge just keeps on growing and everybody’s happy. And that is dead.

There are conversations moving through time and there’s a bunch of people and they get to say what knowledge is.

Why on earth would these people get to say what knowledge is?

But the point is that’s the way it works. You may not like it, but that’s the way it works.

The good news is this thing does move through time. The other good news is this boundary is permeable. Stuff comes in and stuff goes out. Academic conversations excrete as they go.

They go along for a while and they say, whoa, we were doing that! Don’t do that anymore.

The communities you’re entering have their own codes, a set of words that communicates value.

You must know the codes of the communities you’re working in and they are particular to communities.

Some codes are shared among a bunch of communities, some aren’t. You’ve got to know.

The code is, wow, are you smart!

You are so smart and you’ve contributed and you’ve advanced this, you’ve advanced this community through in fabulous ways, but there’s this little thing you got here that’s wrong. And now they say, oh yeah, well thank you for appreciating that. What do you think we have wrong? And then you better have an argument, not an explanation.

The University of Chicago writing program is not real popular in the world of writing programs and you can see why. A lot of people think we’re fascists.

Here’s what we teach people to do. We say, identify the people with power in your community and give them what they want. Lots of people have said to us in some version or another, you’re supposed to teach people to challenge the existing community. Well, actually, I just did, right? But notice that I did it inside the terms of the community.

You want me to go to this really important person, the editors of this journal and tell ’em they’re wrong? Yeah, I do. I need you to do it under the code. You wanna do it under the code. There’s polite ways to do it. There’s insulting ways to do it.

In The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, H. Porter Abbott wrote:

…how completely we are the prisoners of the masterplots we grow up with. …our reason is helpless when it comes to changing the predispositions that have been loaded into our minds through stories.

Prior to the 1950s, few Jews were allowed tenure in American universities for English Literature and History. Why? Because those who occupied the high ground of American cultural production did not want to give up power. When Jews surged into these disciplines, they transformed them in ways they saw as good for Jews. Now Jews, as much as any other group, define what it means to be American and what represents a threat to “our democracy” such as populism and majority rule.

Peter Novick wrote in his 1988 book, That Noble Dream: The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the American Historical Profession:

* Selig Perlman, a professor of economics at Wisconsin, is said to have regularly summoned Jewish graduate students in history to his office and warned them, in a deep Yiddish accent, that “History belongs to the Anglo-Saxons. You belong in economics or sociology.” The academic patrons of Jewish graduate students often despaired of finding them jobs.

* Concern with lowering the status of the profession merged into concern with who should be entrusted with the guardianship of the Geist, and with reservations about the allegedly aggressive intellectual and personal style of Jews: a concern that discourse and social life within the profession would become less genteel if it became less gentile. Letters of recommendation repeatedly tried to reassure prospective employers on this point: Oscar Handlin “has none of the offensive traits which some people associate with his race,” and Bert J. Loewenberg “by temperament and spirit . . . measures up to the whitest Gentile I know” (Arthur Schlesinger); Daniel J. Boorstin “is a Jew, though not the kind to which one takes exception” and Richard Leopold was “of course a Jew, but since he is a Princeton graduate, you may be reasonably certain that he is not of the offensive type” (Roger B. Merriman); Solomon Katz was “quite un-Jewish, if one considers the undesirable side of the race” (Merrill Jensen); variations on the formula were endlessly repeated.

* With minor exceptions (Parsons in the one camp, Pollack in the other), those critical of the Populists were Jews and from the Northeast; those defending them were gentiles, and from the South or Midwest. This feature of the controversy was well known to the participants and many contemporary observers, but was usually mentioned only obliquely, if at all. It tacitly raised issues of perspectivism and universalism which, for the moment, the profession preferred not to discuss openly.

* Daniel Bell recalled for an interviewer discussions about anti-Semitism he had with Richard Hofstadter in the early 1940s. “What arose in our conversations has, I think, shaped a lot of subsequent work. I mean a fear of mass action, a fear of passions let loose. A lot of this goes back in many ways to a particularly Jewish fear. In traditional Jewish life, going back particularly to the Assyrian and Babylonian episodes, the first creativity, there’s a fear of what happens when man is let loose. When man doesn’t have halacha, the law, he becomes chia, an animal.”

* In the early 1960s Carl Bridenbaugh outraged a good many historians with his AHA presidential address. In what was universally taken to be a reference to Jews, who were for the first time becoming a significant presence in the profession, Bridenbaugh deplored the fact that whereas once American historians had shared a common culture, and rural upbringing, the background of the present generation would “make it impossible for them to communicate to and reconstruct the past for future generations.” They suffered from an “environmental deficiency”: being “urban-bred” they lacked the “understanding . . . vouchsafed to historians who were raised in the countryside or in the small town.” They were “products of lower middle-class or foreign origins, and their emotions not infrequently get in the way of historical reconstructions. They find themselves in a very real sense outsiders on our past and feel themselves shut out. This is certainly not their fault, but it is true.”

* None, so far as I can tell, ever advanced what seems to me the most compelling reason why a group of the background of Hofstadter, Bell, Lipset, and their friends should have taken such a uniformly and exaggeratedly bleak view of the Populists: they were all only one generation removed from the Eastern European shtetl, where insurgent gentile peasants spelled pogrom.

* After World War II anti-Semitism in the historical profession, as in society at large, was an embarrassing legacy to be exorcised. The selection of Louis Gottschalk as president of the American Historical Association at the extraordinarily young age, for an AHA president, of fifty-two was in part an expiation of past sins. In these years, relatively few Jews undertook graduate work in history, compared with other disciplines. Of a large sample of the B. A. class of 1961, only 7 percent of those planning graduate work in history were Jews, fewer than in any other disciplines save geology, biology, botany, and zoology. By the end of that decade Jews constituted 9 percent of academic historians, but 22 percent of the membership of history departments at highly rated universities. Of works in American history deemed outstanding in polls of historians, none published before 1950 was by a Jewish historian; of those published in the 1950s three out of ten were by Jews; in the 1960s, four out of ten. Jews also figured prominently in modern European, especially German, history in these years, with a particularly noteworthy role being played by those who had emigrated in the 1930s as children.

Anti-Semitism by no means completely disappeared, and indeed for some the entry of Jews into positions of prominence was an added provocation. J. Fred Rippy of the University of Chicago History Department complained in the early 1950s that “Alfred Knopf does all he can to promote the Jews. . . . The Harris Foundation here is now largely Hebrew controlled. The Guggenheim Foundation favors the Jews in its awards. Saturday Review of Literature is now in the hands of Jews.. . . Jewish influence has been responsible for the choice of Louis Gottschalk as a member of UNESCO’s committee to write a world history. . . . Enrollments have declined . . . the main cause . . . probably is the distaste for such an overwhelming number of Jewish refugees on the faculties.”

* When David Donald recommended six young Americanists to the University of Wisconsin in 1957, five of the six were Jews. By that point, the price of anti-Semitism was mediocrity.

* With a few noteworthy exceptions the Jews who rose to prominence within the profession did not venture into Jewish history; they certainly never attempted to define a “Jewish perspective”; it is probably not coincidental that the leading figures in developing the “consensus” interpretation of American history were all of Jewish background.

* The entry of large numbers of Jews into the upper reaches of the profession in the 1950s and early 1960s was widely seen as the fulfillment of universalist norms. It was otherwise with the arrival of blacks and women from the late sixties onward. For their rise to prominence within the profession coincided with a new, assertive, particularist consciousness which both directly and indirectly challenged universalist norms. They defined themselves not as “historians who happened to be Negroes,” with a consensually acceptable integrationist standpoint, but as black historians, committed to one or another form of cultural nationalism; not “historians who happened to be women,” seeking proportional representation in textbooks for members of their sex, hut feminist historians with an overriding loyalty to their sisters, and agendas which called for a thoroughgoing transformation of historical consciousness. Jews, upon entering the profession, had insisted that they were “just like everyone else, except more so,” committed to a sensibility which was not just integrationist but usually assimilationist as well.

* The chairman of Yale’s History Department, for one, found the social origins of postwar graduate students distressingly low, as compared with those in the English Department at that institution. “Apparently the subject of English still draws to a degree from the cultivated, professional, and well-to-do classes, hence more young men and women from able backgrounds. By contrast, the subject of history seems to appeal on the whole to a lower social stratum. . . . Far too few of our history candidates are sons of professional men; far too many list their parent’s occupation as janitor, watchman, salesman, grocer, pocketbook cutter, bookkeeper, railroad clerk, pharmacist, clothing cutter, cable tester, mechanic, general clerk, butter-and-egg jobber, and the like. One may be glad to see the sons of the lower occupations working upward. .. . It may be flattering to be regarded as an elevator. But even the strongest elevator will break down if asked to lift too much weight.”

* It was quite otherwise with Wisconsin, which throughout the 1950s had been something of a “Progressive” holdout against more conservative historiographical currents. Its faculty contained a number of historians who in various ways served as models to graduate students, a significant portion of whom were New York Jews of leftist background, for whom Wisconsin served an “Americanizing” function. George Rawick, a student at Wisconsin in the mid-1950s, recalled in a letter to Merle Curti that Curti had served as an inspiration to him in becoming an American radical, “not just someone in the ‘internal emigration’ which has been the home of so many New York radicals.” Paul Breines, a graduate student at Madison a few years later, thought that “leftist Jews who identified with [William Appleman] Williams were trying to submerge their Jewishness in his very American socialism or even his socialist Americanism.”

* Whereas Jews were substantially overrepresented at elite institutions (22 percent versus 9 percent in the profession at large), the situation with respect to Catholics was reversed (10 percent versus 21 percent in the profession at large).

* “Those who can, gloat; those who can’t, brood.”

* …those who have written the most influential studies of white attitudes and behavior toward blacks were almost all gentiles—David Brion Davis, George Frederickson, Winthrop Jordan, Morgan Kousser, James McPherson; those who wrote of blacks as subjects, were overwhelmingly Jewish—Ira Berlin, Herbert Gutman, Lawrence Levine, Leon Litwack, George Rawick. Whatever the reason for the disproportionate number of Jews who wrote about blacks from the black point of view, what is important for our purposes is the profound identification of all members of this latter group of historians, Jewish and gentile, with blacks. Though white, they prided themselves on “thinking black”; of being the reverse of “oreos”—vanilla wafers with chocolate filling.

* The generalization about the difference in focus between gentiles and Jews applies with greatest force to those who came of scholarly age in the sixties and seventies, though one could observe it in the previous generation: Woodward and Stampp writing the history of racism and oppression from the white side, Herbert Aptheker and Philip Foner emphasizing black agency. By the 1980s the injunction to “think black” had become so powerful that the distinction began to break down. The examples of Aptheker and Foner suggest a partial explanation for the difference: Jews were considerably more likely to have a background in left politics—to be presocialized into identification with the oppressed.

* If capitalism was as inhuman and destructive as socialists maintained, its victims must have been psychologically maimed and brutalized. On the other hand, if workers were as noble and stalwart as they were in socialist depictions, could the system within which they had developed really be all that oppressive?

* In a way which had many parallels to Jewish historians’ discussions of the behavior of Jews during World War II, resistance came to be equated with endurance and survival. Responding to criticism that in The Slave Community he had slighted resistance, John Blassingame made the analogy explicit: “The most apt characterization of the slave’s behavior is that Lucy Dawidowicz used . . . [in] The War Against the Jews: ‘They learned not only to invent, but to circumvent; not only to obey, but to evade; not only to submit, but to outwit. Their tradition of defiance was devious rather than direct, employing nerve instead of force.'”

* Nathan Glazer…assert[ed] that the black America “has no values and culture to guard and protect.”

* Most members of the generation of young white historians who wrote the history of blacks in the seventies had left-wing backgrounds or involvement in the civil rights movement. Insofar as they were disproportionately Jews, they were products of the years when Jews were, in O’Brien’s terms, brooders rather than gloaters.

* Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study, explains why anti-immigrant populism is more a European problem than an American one. “There is one decisive moment in American history — he says — which is not much written about, but which is very important and it sets up a contrast with Europe. That moment is the moment when the Anglo-American settlers, who thought that they were establishing an Anglo-American State, allowed themselves to become a minority in what they thought was their country. That happened in the course of the Nineteenth century, with a lot of resistance, resentment, nativist movements, hostility to immigrants, but it happened. And, instead of America becoming an Anglo-American nation-state, America became what Horace Kallen called ‘nation of nationalities’ without a majority nation and with an ongoing immigration. That moment is not going to be repeated in Europe.”

The easiest way to understand the complicated intellectual gymnastics of certain scholars such as Leo Strauss and the neo-conservatives is that they prescribed for America what is best for Jews.

Elsewhere in the book, Novick wrote:

[N]arrative truth… would cohere even if it would not correspond…

“The drive narrative tells the partly moralistic and partly Darwinian-scientific tale that at heart we are all animals, and it sets definite guidelines for all the tales we tell about ourselves and others. By following these guidelines, we fulfill two very important functions, albeit often painfully and irrationally. We simultaneously derogate ourselves (which we do for all kinds of reasons), and we disclaim responsibility for our actions. Because these functions are being served, many people find it difficult to accept the proposition that drive is a narrative structure, that is, an optional way of telling the story of human lives.”

Psychoanalysis…offered “a narrative method for constructing a second reality”… “a kind of worldmaking.”

…The analyst should say to the patient: “This second reality is as real as any other. In many ways it is more coherent and inclusive and more open to your activity than the reality you now vouch for and try to make do with. On this basis it also makes the possibility of change clearer and more or less realizable, and so it may open for you a way out of your present difficulties.” In constructing a life history on these pragmatic grounds one entered the world of “fictions” (“an approach to reality . . . an organized set of beliefs and a corresponding way of defining facts”), but this very awareness of what one was doing, allowed one to avoid “myth” (“ultimate, unchangeable assertions about reality pure and simple . . .claiming] direct access to one and only one clearly ascertainable world”).

…scientific knowledge is no less “constructed” than historical knowledge…

One of the most talked-about developments within the profession in the late 1970s and early 1980s was what Lawrence Stone claimed was a “revival of narrative,” which dovetailed with J. H. Hexter’s call for much greater attention to “the rhetoric of history”—and in particular of historical narrative.

The idea of a revival of narrative had several obvious attractions to historians. As disciplinary identities became blurred, historians could define the distinctive essence of their craft, their autonomous realm, as “telling stories.” In the face of multiplying centrifugal forces within the historical discipline a narrative focus could be integrative. Immediately after deploring the profession’s fragmentation, Bernard Bailyn called the writing of “essential narratives . . . the great challenge of modern historical scholarship.” A number of historians—Vann Woodward was particularly eloquent on this issue—saw a revival of narrative as a strategy by which historians could win back the lost popular audience. For various sections of the historical community a narrative focus had special appeal. To those who had always disliked social scientific and quantitative history, or who, like Stone, were questioning their earlier far-reaching claims on its behalf, narrative offered an alternative road. For some still battling against the Hempelian “deducto-nomological” model of historical explanation a revival of narrative was connected to the assertion that there was at least equal explanatory power in “following a story.”

…Many objected to the inherent political conservatism of narrative histories, in which structures were implicitly accepted as a given background against which individual actors shaped events, treating those structures as unproblematic. Narratives were thus conservative in a sense which transcended the left-right continuum: in the USSR accounts of Stalinism which focused on the deeds of the dictator, rather than structural determinants, were “conservative” in their tacit exculpation of the system. In the United States in the 1980s the ideological valence of narrativity seemed clear to leftists. Joan W. Scott described the call for a return to narrative as the rallying cry of conservative historians; Erik Monkkonen perceived it as offering “an interesting parallel with Reaganism and the New Right: a demand for a return to simpler times and simpler tales, for a world no longer mired in complexity and opacity.”

…For [Jack] Hexter, the function of historical narrative was mimetic: to reproduce a story lived in the past, whose structure and appropriate mode of representation were latent in the events themselves. The historian first discovered in the historical record the meaning of past reality, then accurately and artfully represented what he or she had found.

But in attempting to combine a focus on narrative construction with a strong commitment to historical objectivity, Hexter impaled himself on the horns of a dilemma, underlining the dangers which a narrative or rhetorical focus posed for objectivist epistemology. Hexter, in the summary of the philosopher Louis O. Mink, was committed to four propositions: (1) the aim of historical writing is the representation of the past “wie es eigentlich gewesen”; (2) the historical knowledge which historians communicate involves not just isolated facts, but structures of interrelationship; (3) narrative form both exhibits these structures and is needed to communicate much of historical knowledge; (4) proper narrative is meticulously crafted by the historian. The dilemma, said Mink, was that “given (2) and (3), (1) and (4) cannot both be true.”

“Historical actuality has . . . its own complex structure . . . ; narrative has another. . . of an entirely different order. It could be no more than a lucky accident if the
structure of narrative ever successfully represented the structure of historical actuality; but even worse, no one could possibly know whether it did, since to do so would require comparing the two and thus would require knowing the structure of historical actuality in itself independently of any representation of it. But this is impossible.

The dilemma could be avoided by giving up—really giving up—either (1) or (4); then the remaining three propositions would be consistent. . . . The price for giving up (1) is relativism (a bete noire for Hexter). . . . On the other hand, the price of giving up (4) is a crushing dullness (also a bete noire for Hexter), since the only historiographical form directly supported by evidence is bare chronology.. . . [Hexter’s] positive contribution to the theory of historiography is the attempt to elaborate criteria for the achievement and communication of historical knowledge which would be both true and illuminating. . . . This is achieved by holding together incompatible criteria by main strength. To sustain this precarious alliance a sort of mental oscillation is required: to forget temporarily how much imagination goes into the construction of a narrative when one is thinking about the otherness of historical actuality, and to forget temporarily the distance which separates one from that actuality when one is thinking about the coherence and force of the story one tells or is trying to tell. Hexter might reply that there is very little point in historians5 worrying over how it is possible to do something which in fact [Hexter claims] they do all the time as a matter of course. . . . But in a theory of historiography one cannot evade a problem by calling it only

Historians as well as philosophers came to realize that for those committed to the defense of historical objectivity, a literary or narrativist orientation was dangerous… On the objectivity question, as on questions of ideology and methodology, narrativity offered no basis for the convergence of historical consciousness.

The Holocaust became a big deal in American life in the late 1970s. Why? Because narratives about the Holocaust advanced certain interests in a changing America. Peter Novick wrote in his 1999 book The Holocaust in American Life:

[T]he decline in America of an integrationist ethos (which focused on what Americans have in common and what unites us) and its replacement by a particularist ethos (which stresses what differentiates and divides us). The leaders of American Jewry, who once upon a time had sought to demonstrate that Jews were “just like everybody else, except more so,” now had to establish, for both Jews and gentiles, what there was about Jews that made them different…

What does differentiate American Jews from other Americans? On what grounds can distinctive Jewish identity in the United States be based? These days American Jews can’t define their Jewishness on the basis of distinctively Jewish religious beliefs, since most don’t have much in the way of distinctively Jewish religious beliefs. They can’t define it by distinctively Jewish cultural traits, since most don’t have any of these either. American Jews are sometimes said to be united by their Zionism, but if so, it is of a thin and abstract variety: most have never visited Israel; most contribute little to, and know even less about, that country. In any case, in recent years Israeli policies have alternatively outraged the secular and the religious, hawks and doves — a less than satisfactory foundation for unity. What American Jews do have in common is the knowledge that but for their parents’ or (more often) grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ immigration, they would have shared the fate of European Jewry…

At bar and bat mitzvahs, in a growing number of communities, the child is “twinned” with a young victim of the Holocaust who never lived to have the ceremony, and by all reports, the kids like it a lot. Adolescent Jews who go on organized tours to Aushwitz and Treblinka have reported that they were “never so proud to be a Jew” as when, at these sites, they vicariously experienced the Holocaust. Jewish college students oversubscribe courses on the Holocaust, and rush to pin yellow stars to their lapels on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)…

Another, parallel development in contemporary American culture has furthered this development. There has been a change in the attitude toward victimhood from a status all but universally shunned and despised to one often eagerly embraced. On the individual level, the cultural icon of the strong, silent hero hero is replaced by the vulnerable and verbose antihero. Stoicism is replaced as a prime value by sensitivity. Instead of enduring in silence, one lets it all hang out. The voicing of pain and outrage is alleged to be “empowering” as well as therapeutic…

The historian Charles Maier of Harvard…has described modern American politics as a “competition for enshrining grievances. Every group claims its share of public honor and public funds by pressing disabilities and injustices. National public life becomes the settlement of a collective malpractice suit in which all citizens are patients and physicians simultaneously.” All of this…meshes with the new emphasis on separate group identity rather than on “all-American” identity. In practice, the assertion of the group’s historical victimization — on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation — is always central to the group’s assertion of its distinctive identity.

American Jews were by far the wealthiest, best-educated, most influential, in-every-way-most-successful group in American society — a group that, compared to most other identifiable minority groups, suffered no measurable discrimination and no disadvantages on account of that minority status. But insofar as Jewish identity could be anchored in the agony of European Jewry, certification as (vicarious) victims could be claimed, with all the moral privilege accompanying such certification.

The grounding of group identity and claims to group recognition in victimhood has produced not just a game of “show and tell,” with members of the class waving their arms to be called on to recount their story. In Jewish discourse on the Holocaust we have not just a competition for recognition but a competition for primacy. This takes many forms. Among the most widespread and pervasive is an angry insistence on the uniqueness of the Holocaust… “Your catastrophe, unlike ours, is ordinary; unlike ours is comprehensible; unlike ours is representable.”

Matter-of-fact references by blacks to their “ghetto” (a century-old usage) are condemned as pernicious attempts to steal “our” Holocaust. Let Ted Turner, denouncing what he regards as Rupert Murdoch’s autocratic behavior, refer to Murdoch as “fuhrer”, and the ADL (I’m not making this up) sends out a press release demanding an apology for Turner’s having demeaned the Holocaust. The greatest victory is to wring an acknowledgment of superior victimization from another contender. Officials of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum tell, with great satisfaction, a story of black youngsters learning of the Holocaust and saying, “God, we thought we had it bad.”

Apart from being our ticket of admission to this sordid game, American Jewish centering of the Holocaust has had other practical consequences. For many Jews…it has mandated an intransigent and self-righteous posture in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the Middle Eastern dispute came to be viewed within a Holocaust paradigm, that tangled imbroglio was endowed with all the black-and-white moral simplicity of the Holocaust. And in this realm the Holocaust framework has promoted as well a belligerent stance toward any criticism of Israel: “Who are you, after what you did to us (or allowed to be done to us), to dare to criticize us now?”

In a 1982 essay “Nomos and Narrative“, legal scholar Robert M. Cover wrote:

We inhabit a nomos – a normative universe. We constantly create and maintain a world of right and wrong, of lawful and unlawful, of valid and void.2 The student of law may come to identify the normative world with the professional paraphernalia of social control. The rules and principles of justice, the formal institutions of the law, and the conventions of a social order are, indeed, important to that world; they are, however, but a small part of the normative universe that ought to claim our attention. No set of legal institutions or prescriptions exists apart from the narratives that locate it and give it meaning.3 For every constitution there is an epic, for each decalogue a scripture. 4 Once understood in the context of the narratives that give it meaning, law becomes not merely a system of rules to be observed, but a world in which we live. In this normative world, law and narrative are inseparably related. Every prescription is insistent in its demand to be located in discourse to be supplied with history and destiny, beginning and end, explanation and purpose.5 And every narrative is insistent in its demand for its prescriptive point, its moral. History and literature cannot escape their location in a normative universe, 6 nor can prescription, even when embodied in a legal text, escape its origin and its end in experience, in the narratives that are the trajectories plotted upon material reality by our imaginations.

…The normative universe is held together by the force of interpretive commitments – some small and private, others immense and public. These commitments – of officials and of others – do determine what law means and what law shall be.13 If there existed two legal orders with identical legal precepts and identical, predictable patterns of public force, they would nonetheless differ essentially in meaning if, in one of the orders, the precepts were universally venerated while in the other they were regarded by many as fundamentally unjust.

…A legal tradition is hence part and parcel of a complex normative world. The tradition includes not only a corpus juris, but also a language and a mythos – narratives in which the corpus juris is located by those whose wills act upon it. These myths establish the paradigms for behavior. They build relations between the normative and the material universe, between the constraints of reality and the demands of an ethic. These myths establish a repertoire of moves a lexicon of normative action – that may be combined into meaningful patterns culled from the meaningful patterns of the past.

…The very imposition of a normative force upon a state of affairs, real or imagined, is the act of creating narrative. The various genres of narrative – history, fiction, tragedy, comedy – are alike in their being the account of states of affairs affected by a normative force field.

…Narratives are models through which we study and experience transformations that result when a given simplified state of affairs is made to pass through the force field of a similarly simplified set of norms. The intelligibility of normative behavior inheres in the communal character of the narratives that provide the context of that behavior. Any person who lived an entirely idiosyncratic normative life would be quite mad.

Colin Dickey wrote for The New Republic June 27, 2024:

Ruth Emrys Gordon, another online disinfo researcher who is also a novelist, says, “It’s hard to get people to believe things, but it’s easy to get them unsure and confused.” The goal is to create what sociologist Jurgen Habermas called a “legitimation crisis”: a breakdown in meaning so fundamental that even basic communication, and the ability to agree on the most basic facts, becomes impossible.

… “Achieving psychological peace,” they write, “doesn’t always require us to tell new kinds of stories. Instead, it involves understanding how many of our social interactions are shaped by the stories we’ve heard. It’s about recognizing weaponized stories when they come flying at us, instead of accepting them as factual or unquestionably good.” But awareness itself can come from competing, alternative stories, stories that push back against the monolithic conclusions of psychological war and offer alternatives to violence.

…At one point, it may have made sense to talk about the “American public” as a homogenous, unified group, but that is no longer the case.

In his work in progress, Conservative Claims of Cultural Oppression, Rony Guldmann writes:

* …liberalism as now viewed by conservatives is an overarching cultural narrative of which the policy prescriptions are only symptoms. Liberalism is not just a political orientation, but a totalistic worldview and way of being that has crept into the American psyche itself and can always be discovered at work in the seeming trifles of social life and pop culture—suffocating conservatives from all sides. Liberalism is not sustained by reason and argument, but by the mores and pieties that liberals have quietly entrenched as the unquestioned, taken-for-granted background of things—a parochial ethos into which the populace has become progressively indoctrinated by small, often imperceptible increments. In issuing their claims of cultural oppression, conservatives seek to awaken their fellow Americans to this hidden reality.

* These disciplines and repressions have been culturally exalted as the achievement of a historically unprecedented self-possession, self-control, and self-transparency, the liberation of essential human faculties from the teleological illusions in which a benighted past once shackled them. But this self-congratulatory Enlightenment narrative conceals a darker and more complicated story that reveals molding and coercion where liberalism sees only liberation and “awareness.” What liberalism upholds as autonomous self-possession is in fact the internalization of the new restraints and inhibitions of the disciplinary society. The modern liberal identity is not an unvarnished naturalistic lucidity, as liberals are wont to see it. For it embodies the contingent historical forces that first generated it, a new uniformization, homogenization, and rationalization that liberalism’s Enlightenment narratives conceal or discount. These narratives trace our modern “innerness” to a certain psychic liberation from blind convention. But they overlook that this innerness is a kind of blind convention in its own right, the outcome of the disciplinary molding that quietly undergirds liberal ideals.

* …liberals believe in their heart of hearts that they enjoy a more self-regulating and self-transparent form of human agency than has been attained by conservatives, the “bitter clingers” lost in a hallucinatory world of imaginary cultural villains. But the Counter-Enlightenment narrative I defend reveals that what liberals celebrate as their higher-order rationality is in its subterranean structure a system of collective meaning-production, a hero-system that as such is on a par with the hero-systems of conservatism.

* Conservative claims of cultural oppression are right-wing populism turned post-modern. They protest liberalism, not as a public philosophy but as a meta-narrative—a way of thinking that, being no longer recognizable as such, has as Kimball says seeped into “the realm of habit, taste, and feeling.” Conservatives will frame the precise nature of liberals’ duplicity in a variety of ways. But they are united by the conviction that liberalism is sustained in existence by some all-pervasive social distortion, and that this distortion must be exposed if rhetorical parity between Left and Right is to be restored. Goldberg condemns the liberal denial of ideology as “offensive to logic, culturally pernicious, and, yes, infuriating.” And his exasperation is that of all conservatives, who find themselves perennially accused of moral and intellectual failure by those who lack any standing to condemn them. With acrobatic dexterity, liberals have eluded every attempt to hold them accountable, and have now been taken in by their own performances as dispassionate rationalists and pragmatists. With conservatives being the only remaining threat to those performances, to the liberal identity, they cannot but become another. The conservaphobia that oppresses them is neither a gratuitous free-floating vice nor a calculated political strategy, but thelogical corollary of liberalism’s basic self-understanding as somehow above the fray of sect and ideology.

* Conservative claimants of cultural oppression understand liberalism in much the same way that feminists understand patriarchy or post-colonial multiculturalists understand Eurocentrism: It is not just a just a set of political aims but an overarching ethos and narrative of which the explicitly political aims are only one expression, and not always the most important one. Liberalism inheres, not only in its principles and policies, but in the pre-reflective mores of the ambient culture, which are what prepare the population for those principles and policies.

* Goldberg urges conservatives to guard against being seduced by “the narrative of victimization.” That narrative is correct on the merits—conservatives “are called racists, bigots, fools, fascist, etc. every day by those who control the commanding heights of the culture.” But Goldberg believes that complaining about this can be counterproductive when it “concedes the authority of the liberal establishment to make such claims” and “encourages conservatives to internalize two unhealthy responses.” The first is “the burning desire to offend liberals just for kicks.” Though acceptable in moderation, this impulse can make conservatives come off as obnoxious, thus discrediting them. The other, antipodal but equally unhelpful, response is “self-hating conservatism,” which causes conservatives “to apologize for being ‘old-fashioned’” or to seek “to prove they ‘care’ too.” Hence the “abomination” of “compassionate conservatism.”

* The liberal narrative refuses to recognize this [1960s] chaos and its consequences. In occluding this, that narrative serves the twin ideological functions of 1) absolving liberalism of responsibility for the decay of traditional values and 2) portraying the ordinary American as still mired in unatoned racism, and so as requiring liberal interventions.

* The liberal narrative celebrates birth control as a crucial step in women’s liberation. But in like fashion, Goldberg observes that Margaret Sanger first promoted birth control by hitching a “racist-eugenic campaign to sexual pleasure and female liberation.” In persuading women that birth control was a “necessary tool for their own personal gratification,” Sanger “brilliantly used the language of liberation to convince women they weren’t going along with a collectivist scheme but were in fact ‘speaking truth to power.’”53Here as elsewhere, the problem with liberal individualism is not its excesses but its fraudulence, the hidden tribalistic impulses operating underneath the façade of that individualism, in which liberals do not truly believe.

* Moral relativism and subjectivism are not the transcendence of ideology—as the liberal narrative would have it—but, on the contrary, ideological weapons through which to disguise the injuries which the people of fashion would inflict on the common people. The latter’s moral degradation augments the political and cultural capital of the Left no less than vast armies of low-wage workers augment the profits of industrialists. This degradation is simply the currency of liberal ambition, merely another way for the anointed to set themselves against the benighted and their moral traditionalism.

* Our political attitudes emerge out of synaptically encoded moral narratives, which possess a dramatic structure comprised of heroes, villains, victims, helpers, and so forth. And this is in turn undergirded by an emotional structure which binds the dramatic structure to positive and negative emotional circuitry. Feelings like anger, fear, and relief are responses to developments within the dramatic structure—such as villainy, battle, and victory. This is why we feel elated when our political candidate wins and depressed when he loses. The candidate’s fate has been neurally integrated with our dopamine circuitry, which is activated by his victory and suppressed by his defeat. We aren’t born with these narratives, but their foundations become physically encoded in our brains quickly enough and constitute the lenses through which we see others and ourselves. Our choice of political candidate can sometimes change. But the “deep narratives” that ultimately drive our choices are strongly resistant to change. These have been synaptically encrypted into our physiology and cannot be altered absent a transformation in our broader brain structure.78To the extent change is possible, this will be, not because arguments have changed our minds, but because language has changed our brains, because the right words and images have strengthened some synaptic connections while weakening others to the point that political reorientation becomes possible.

* What liberals would dismiss as conservatives’ “vague premonitions of erosion or unraveling” of some ethereal social fiber is, translated into non-anthropocentric terms, the gradual unraveling of a neurologically encoded heroic narrative, the erosion of its synaptic strength at the hands of a hostile cultural environment that fails to activate, and indeed works to de-activate, the synaptic connections that underpin conservatives’ identities and hero-system. These connections are as much a part of us as are our limbs, organs, and bank accounts.

* The feminist narrative tells us that women’s liberation is a struggle against the forces of patriarchy, against the various legal norms, social practices, and cultural prejudices that continue to confine women to a subordinate social station. But for conservatives, this is history as written by the victors, and so a history that silences the voices of the losers, non-feminist women, whose trials and tribulations never enter the liberal moral equation. Feminism is a struggle, not by all women against male patriarchs, but by an elite minority of powerful women against a majority of women who never felt compromised by traditional gender roles.

* Liberals adopt their moral stances in furtherance of a heroic narrative that places them at center stage and conscripts other groups as props…

* Though liberals seek to uplift the downtrodden, they do so as part and parcel of a heroic narrative that assigns them a privileged role for which others bear the cost. This cost was paid by Justice Thomas, who like all designated victims can enjoy the beneficence of the anointed and their victim/villain/rescuer narrative only inasmuch as he acknowledges that narrative and the anointed’s status within it as rescuers. In opposing affirmative action, Thomas denied that narrative and status, and so he became exposed to the racial prejudice from which liberal blacks are shielded.

* [Robert] Bork writes that the Supreme Court’s “pronouncements are significantly guided not by the historical meaning of the Constitution but by the values of the class that is dominant in the culture.” Having become colonized by the “parochial morality of an arrogant intellectual class,” the courts surreptitiously elevate a particularistic cultural ethos into a hegemonic narrative about the meaning of American ideals, all under the guise of thoughtfulness, enlightenment, progress, and so forth.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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