Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas (Shouldn’t) Be More Commercial

As I try to do every year, it is time to take out Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s ridiculous article “Christmas Should Be More Commercial,” and beat it up a little bit.

Why do I do this every year?

Why do you think? In this day and age where people beat the living shit out of each other over toys, step over ailing fellow citizens, shoot each other over mall parking spaces, and “Black Friday Death Count” will give you enough results for days of readings – it a naive question to ask why.

So let’s dig in with the first paragraph.

Christmas in America is an exuberant display of human ingenuity, capitalist productivity, and the enjoyment of life. Yet all of these are castigated as “materialistic”; the real meaning of the holiday, we are told, is assorted Nativity tales and altruist injunctions (e.g., love thy neighbor) that no one takes seriously.

As far as the first sentence is concerned this is not in anyone’s mind for Christmas. First, we can display the first two characteristics at anytime of the year. To take a negative example: if a drunk invites you to his party for Sunday night, you might want to ask what the occasion is since the man drinks all seven days of the week. As for the enjoyment of life it is not the commerciality of Christmas that marks the spirit of Christmas. No Christmas movie I grew up with extolled the enjoyment of life as getting a bunch of shit one morning.

What this is is Peikoff taking a few incidentals and, to makeshift some sort of holiday that fits under his philosophy (as he accuses the Christians of doing later) making them the essentials, the defining essence of the holiday. Note that children do not experience “human ingenuity” and “capitalistic productivity” they think the stuff comes from Santa Clause! A character which, under Objectivist thinking, is on equal par with Jesus or God.

And let’s not forget, in ObjectivistLand there already is a holiday celebrating capitalistic productivity; namely Thanksgiving. Yes, the nuts actually redefined Thanksgiving to honor Henry Ford. But this one is different because you are supposed to enjoy yourself this time?

Then Peikoff (is this only the first paragraph?) does the usual Objectivist either/or and says these characteristic are castigated as “materialistic.” Well, yes. But let’s note that only Objectivists actually extol this non-existent vision of Christmas. What is castigated is the championing of these characteristics to the exclusion of all others.

In fact, Christmas as we celebrate it today is a 19th-century American invention. The freedom and prosperity of post-Civil War America created the happiest nation in history. The result was the desire to celebrate, to revel in the goods and pleasures of life on earth. Christmas (which was not a federal holiday until 1870) became the leading American outlet for this feeling.

This is true and not true. Christmas as we celebrate it today in America is a 19th-century American invention. However, there were many other parts of the world that had similar festivities that centered around a certain Saint Nicholas, or derivatives from.

From History.com

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. Similar figures were popular all over the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Pere Noel is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Russia, it is believed that an elderly woman named Babouschka purposely gave the wise men wrong directions to Bethlehem so that they couldn’t find Jesus. Later, she felt remorseful, but could not find the men to undo the damage. To this day, on January 5, Babouschka visits Russian children leaving gifts at their bedsides in the hope that one of them is the baby Jesus and she will be forgiven. In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children.

Then Peikoff goes off into sketchy history. I have never read a definitive account of the Christians purposefully taking over the pagan holiday and “faking” the date of Jesus’ birth to stamp out the pagan practice of the winter solstice celebrations. Never mind the derivativeness of the Roman holiday – Romans good! Christians bad!

To Be Continued…

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NaNo Day 23 and Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Sorry I post at the end of my day. It is actually Friday the day after Thanksgiving.

Happy buy a bunch of discounted stuff while you fight and curse your fellow man day!

Word count today 2290 for a total of 38,609

Speaking of black friday, I saw a funny meme that said the following:

Did I say funny? Sad perhaps is better.

In the spirit of the holiday season, you may ask. Mr. Wizard are you going to rip on and make fun of Leonard Peikoff’s CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE MORE COMMERCIAL again this year. Answer dear reader: I sure hope to have the time because I never tire of ripping that absurd essay!

I may also, if time permits, rip on another Objectivist theme, thanksgiving as the original American secular holiday – despite the obvious fact that it never was. They have several of these, but I think I may pick on THANKSGIVING: THE PRODUCER’S HOLIDAY

Sometimes I read these things and I can’t believe I once nodded my head in agreement to these arguments!


Alley Oop! – It’s All in the Listening, Or It’s About the Other

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Merry (belated) Christmas!

One early morning a couple of months ago the wife and I were going for a walk. Now, we’ve been married for almost 22 years, and, over time, there is little that one doesn’t reveal to the other. No, I’m not talking about shady secrets or anything like that. I’m talking about good things, fond memories, childhood interests, views on certain things of the world or not of the world.

The previous evening I had come across, on the ol’ internet, Alley Oop. Back in the late 70’s while my parents were contemplating moving the family to Tucson, AZ they subscribed to the Arizona Daily Star newspaper. In that paper’s funny pages was a strip called Alley Oop. It has been in constant production and syndication for many decades now. When I was reading it, Alley Oop was just transported by time machine into the present day by Dr. Elbert Wonmug. I was hooked on that storyline and eagerly awaited the Sunday edition of the ADS to show up every week.

Sometimes it wouldn’t show up for weeks!

It was one of the strips that got me into a somewhat brief interest in cartooning. I even produced an amateurish series called “Gepo” who was a butterball of an alien and his friend Tim. I think I may have been influenced by E.T. as well although my character style at that time was closer to Jim Davis (Garfield) and Mad’s Don Martin:

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Don Martin’s influence on Jim Davis is pretty obvious… I don’t recall which one I came across first.

Anyway time passes – about 30 years – and I come across this childhood love of mine that had totally left my mind. I blabbed about it (probably too much) as we were walking and then I promptly forgot about it again. But my wife, bless her, is always listening (even when I am pretty sure she isn’t!) and today (because bedtime is still several hours away for me) I got the first two volumes of the Dark House Comics oversize format release of the Sundays.

That she remembered blew me away, I didn’t remember.

Then I got a chance to blow her away. This is a little less frequent as I have a severe mental disability. I cannot, except at certain tasks, be on one task at a time mentally. If you are talking to me I am most likely thinking about a story, some philosophical idea (even if our subject already is philosophy) wondering about time and space, the meaning of life – or the particular moment we are in and its relation to the cosmos, or staring at my hand and trying to viscerally imagine it as it will be in the future – dead flesh. Sometimes I even have to go back 10 to 20 pages in my reading because it can be that long before I realize that even though I was, technically, reading, I was not there to register or retain it.

In case you wonder if I live near you (so to avoid me on the road) driving is one of the tasks I can focus exclusively on. The other two I can think of is playing guitar and writing (which includes editing and researching and all that), oh, three drawing. Those three will keep my full focus. Luckily my job demands I focus on 20 things simultaneously and then forgetting it.

Yuck, am I babbling about myself? I criticize other people for this kind of narcissism! Ah well, it’s not like I’ve got you cornered in a small room or something.

So my wife was talking about something really cool that she liked that her friend had showed her back in October. It was a small thing that would normally be grunted at behind a newspaper in television land. One thing I like about the iPhone (I don’t do other products, sorry) is you can jot down reminder notes for later use. So I was grunting while I had my face in my phone because I was jotting down the product she was talking about for Christmas purchase.

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That little figure sitting on the keys is called a Little Sad Keanu Reeves.

Score!


Dr. Scrooge

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I think I will make this a Christmas season ritual until I exhaust it. Every year Capitalism Magazine republishes a diatribe by Leonard Peikoff called: CHRISTMAS SHOULD BE MORE COMMERCIAL.

Dr. Peikoff, for those who do not know the name (and most don’t) is the foremost protege of philosopher Ayn Rand. I was an acolyte of both for a number of years (never met either – through books, tapes, and so on). In my defense I was never a very good follower. I just wasn’t brought up to have the natural sentiments of a temper throwing, selfish ass!

This year I am going to pick on the last sentence of Peikoff’s article. Don’t worry if you didn’t bother to follow the link and read the article, you’re not missing anything but faulty history, jumps in logic, category errors, and the usual shoddy atheistic (mainly Objectivist) nastiness such as “…and self-sacrifice for Tiny Tim or his equivalent.” as if helping poor Tiny Tim out was like Scrooge taking a bullet for a stranger.

But in Objectivistland it is! Ebenezer Scrooge helping Tiny Tim is self-sacrifice. And self sacrifice is evil.

And thus we get to the sentence:

It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.

Now let’s have some fun and see what is left after you take out Christ from Christmas. Well, you have mass as in Mass, which is the sacrament of the Eucharist, Holy Communion. That can’t be what he means.

But joking aside, let’s take him at his word. Guiltlessly egoistic, this-worldly, commercial, pro-reason. This last merely means atheistic – it is part of taking Christ out of Christmas- being atheistic is pro-reason, being religious, or having faith is anti-reason (which in Objectivist speak is anti-mind and anti-life and the worship of death).

The key elements are (guiltlessly) egoistic and commercial.

What a fun holiday this would be! But I tell you what. I can guiltlessly buy myself commercial shit ALL YEAR LONG! And if I was a guiltlessly selfish sort wanting to revel in a commercial celebration why would I restrain myself to once a year? Am I not then practicing what you are arguing against the rest of the year? Or am I merely saving up for the giant orgy of shit-buying at the great annual atheist commercial celebration? And I have to ask that because why, if I am a guiltlessly egoistic man, would I buy shit for other people? So they would buy shit for me in return? Perhaps I buy better shit for myself than the shit they would buy for me? Why not skip the middle man and we’ll just go our separate ways and buy shit for ourselves?

You notice we’re halfway there on that already with people buying gift cards for each other. I know people who agree on a dollar limit and then get each other gift cards. How stupid is that? You are exchanging $50 for $50! Keep the money and go with my idea! Buy yourselves some shit!

How much more of an impersonal drudgery are we going to let the apostles of self-esteem make the excitement that was once Christmas?

And when that runty bastard Tiny Tim gets in your way (cuz the lad walks slow) on your walk home, shove past him. Outta my way, cripple! Guiltless, remember? Perhaps it is to my satisfaction to sneer at the bugger, what matters it you? I bought all my shit and I want to play with it. This low person is taking up my time, I only have so much of it to live and he is taking some. HE’S MAKING ME SELF-SACRIFICE!!!

Whether you are religious or not, this definition of Christmas is dead water. It calls for no different behavior than people generally display throughout the regular year.

To be continued….

…Unless I’m out buying myself shit….