Sunday, August 18, 2013



The Atlantic is a truly marvelous magazine which seems to cover most subjects relevant to the human condition—with the exception of sports. Historically, it was a monthly, but now its online version is updated with quality articles daily. It seems to understand the internet—and its readers--in a way many other publications do not.

I first started to read it regularly after famed Atlantic journalist, Jim Fallows (a delightful man), interviewed me about matters military – the incentive being a flight in his Cirrus aircraft.

Recently the Atlantic published a piece which truly resonated with me—and I suspect with many. Here are several extracts:

How America's 'Culture of Hustling' Is Dark and Empty

One of America’s worst crimes, according to cultural historian and social critic Morris Berman, is the cultivation of a “culture of hustling.” Hustling—the surrender of everything to market forces and the sacrifice of life to consumer culture—is an energizing and often enriching enterprise, but it is ultimately empty, depressing, and destructive.

Most Americans have a dull sense that their lives are fundamentally “off”—because for the most part, they are. They hate their lives, but to get through the day, besides taking Prozac and consulting their cell phone every two minutes, they talk themselves into believing that they want to be doing what they are doing. This is probably the major source of illness in our culture, whether physical or mental.

This is, in some ways, the subject of my book Why America Failed. America is essentially about hustling, and that goes back more than 400 years. It’s practically genetic, in the U.S., by now; the programming is so deep, and so much out of conscious awareness, that very few Americans can break free of it. They’re really sleepwalking through life, living out a narrative that is not of their own making, while thinking they are in the driver’s seat.

This is tough stuff, and whereas I’m not sure I would go as far as Mr. Berman—my view of the U.S. is not that bleak (I have experienced too many good things here)—but I think he is absolute right about “A Culture of Hustling”—and the nation is the worse for it.

From an author’s point of view, publishers currently want someone who is a salesman first—with a Social Media following to prove it—and only then are they interested. The writing is demonstrably second.

That is pretty damned sick—and terribly sad.

PHOTO: Another of my sister Lucy’s photographs taken during her recent trip to Australia. I have never been myself, unfortunately.

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