If you ever wondered what it would be like if reactionaries got together to discuss queer theory, you need no longer imagine. Alan Roebuck’s post, “The Manhood Deficit,” has become a lengthy discussion on the love that dare not speak its name. I do not have much confidence in such theorizing—not that there’s anything wrong with that—because I share Steve Nicoloso’s skepticism toward simple and reductive explanations for complex human phenomena.
Last month at Alternative Right, Colin Liddell addressed Americans’ particularly unpleasant and unresolvable ethnic situation while commenting on the National Review‘s scheisskanning John Derbyshire: “The Asymmetry of America: John Derbyshire and the unNational nonReview.” Liddell explains the ignoble lie that underlies American race relations:
In Switzerland, the German Swiss and French Swiss are different, but there is a rough equivalence that allows them to work together with mutual respect, deal with differences, and strike deals that are mutually acceptable. The same can be said for Castilians, Catalans, and Basques in Spain, and Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Gujaratis, and Bengalis in India. These groups are all different, but the differences are not so great or one-sided as to render them completely asymmetrical. This makes a dialogue possible. Where goodwill exists, the different groups can represent their racial and cultural interests, and address problems in a quid pro quo manner, without denying race as the American establishment does.
Between Blacks and Whites in the USA, this is simply impossible, because whenever racial issues are addressed the enormous racial asymmetry instantly becomes the main issue. But what does this racial asymmetry consist of? In concrete terms it refers to the entirely lopsided relationship between the two races and how they compare in a number of key indicators where Blacks are on the negative side: They are much poorer, more criminal, imprisoned in much greater numbers, less educated, depend much more on welfare and ‘affirmative’ action, have much less conventional family stability, and report much lower IQ rates than Whites. By all the standards that matter in a modern society, Blacks trail disastrously behind Whites. It is this asymmetry that makes an honest discussion about race an impossibility in modern America. It also makes a quid pro quo very difficult, because what this are Whites to get for what that?
Instead we get a dishonest discussion about race: Back in the 1950s and 60s, round about the time the National Review was getting on its feet, nice, kind White liberals popularized an explanation for all the above phenomena that tied them all together in a series of causes and effects in a manner that was not overly insulting and offensive to Black people. Basically it said that Blacks were suffering from slavery and racism and that once racism was removed they would soon catch up with Whites and be their equals. Without this lie, desegregation and civil rights could not have happened.
Interestingly, this face-saving explanation of racial asymmetry, which I will call the “Face-Saving Racial Myth,” has now become the dominant racial narrative across the entire mainsteam media and most of the political spectrum, not because it is true. Indeed, everybody secretly knows it is untrue in the same way that everybody secretly gives their kids exactly the same kind of advice that John Derbyshire wrote about in his article. No, this Fairy Godmother explanation of racial asymmetry is favoured simply for reasons of short-term political and economic expediency because America is a political entity and collection of economic entities that all run on short-term political and economic expediency.
The basic racial asymmetry between Blacks and Whites means that the “Face-Saving Racial Myth” must never be challenged, for when it is the already tattered national fabric starts to unravel. Wherever you have a marked racial asymmetry, honest discussion of it will do two things. First it will be immensely offensive to the disadvantaged race and those who claim to speak for them (another indice of racial asymmetry is that Blacks usually need Whites to do their arguing for them). It is unrealistic not to expect them to be angry. They will be well and truly pissed. This is not an argument to placate them, but a mere statement of fact.
The second thing that will happen is that White people, even those who have nothing but goodwill for Blacks, will notice that the longer they honestly and frankly discuss race the more they will end up sounding exactly like “White supremacists” and so-called hard-line “racists.” This is not because they have “inherent racism” as leftists like to imagine, it is simply because the facts of the debate will push them in that direction.
Derbyshire’s article is a perfect example of both of these effects. Far from being hateful or racist, the tone of the article was one of stoical regret that things had to be the way they are, but that, because of undeniable facts and dangers, certain precautions were advisable to safeguard one’s children. Writing with his usual honesty and thoroughness, it wasn’t long before he was unwittingly saying things that couldn’t help but be offensive to Blacks, while nevertheless being completely true.
The direction that the debate goes was revealed on the on-line comment boards at Taki’s and several other publications that got involved in the fight. Where these were’t censored, the debates all served to highlight the great racial asymmetry between Blacks and Whites. After Black crime rates were mentioned, the debate tended to move on to why Blacks commit so much more crime than Whites, leading to issues of poverty, low IQs, and the failure of Blacks to progress since “racism” ended. This then led to the corruption, chaos, and devastation seen in Black-run areas, with countless examples, usually mentioning Detroit and occasionally Haiti, as well as African countries. Even slavery is a can of worms for Blacks as most of the actual enslaving, like most Black crime, was Black-on-Black, with White and Jewish slave traders providing the unfortunates with an escape from probable certain death and possible cannibalism.
Against a plethora of brutal facts and hard experience all that the defenders / apologists of Black dysfunction have is the “Face-Saving Racial Myth,” creaking, leaking, ragged, and ridiculous from constant overuse since the early 1960s, and a flood of Nazi, klan, hillbilly, and duelling banjo jibes to cover up the vacuum where their arguments and evidence should be.
In short, the more that race is honestly discussed the more insulting it inevitably becomes for Blacks, and the more Whites will find themselves slipping unwittingly into “supremacist” language and attitudes, simply because of the underlying racial asymmetry. There is almost a surreal quality to any attempt to discuss such topics as the 20-point IQ gap, Black-on-White crime (with stats and examples), racial profiling, and the history of slavery in a calm, polite, and respectful way.
We have built our new national “harmony” on quite an unstable foundation. Jeremiah Wright railed against American racism by claiming that “We Americans believe in white supremacy and black inferiority, and believe it more than we believe in God.” Wright is largely right, though perhaps the degree of certainty is exaggerated. I really believe that this attitude is widespread among those on the Left and the Right, in all classes, and in all ethnic groups, though few “reputable” members of society admit their thoughtcrimes to anyone—or to themselves. For that honesty could be dangerous; people might get lowried! What a repulsive mess! I find it outrageous—the despicable lies and taboos that cloud thinking. When people cannot even face up to their own inner judgment, how can we expect any coherence to proceed? We are a nation of cowards—and idiots!
Happy Memorial Day!
While you celebrate, I suggest that you avoid the kiddy pizza playground place, Chuck E. Cheese, unless you live in Vermont, West Virginia, or Idaho.
Steve Sailer posted an entertaining blurb last month about a Daily Mail report on the episodic violence at Chuck E. Cheeses in America: “Daily Mail: ‘Why has children’s party restaurant Chuck E. Cheese become a hot spot for grown up brawling?’” As a solution, Sailer discusses a fascinating article in The New York Times, “Let the Nanotargeting Begin,” by Thomas Edsall:
Thomas Edsall in the New York Times puts up some more of those political / marketing research graphs I showed in Taki’s Magazine two years ago. They are from National Media Research, Planning and Placement and show Democrat-Republican skew on the left-right axis and propensity to vote on the vertical axis. Here, for example, the most Democratic-leaning clientele of restaurants belong to Church’s Chicken, Popeye’s (chicken), White Castle, and Chuck E Cheese’s. This may help answer the classic Daily Mail headline Why has children’s party restaurant Chuck E. Cheese become a hot spot for grown up brawling?
The Daily Mail reporter is rather mischievous in covering C.E. Cheese mayhem. He notes:
David Schwartz, a psychologist and professor at the University of Southern California viewed some of the fights on YouTube and told Nightline that he was not surprised at the behavior displayed.
“Birthday parties are really emotional situations. There’s frustration and provocation. A parent will never be more ready to defend somebody than when they’re with their child.” he said.
Then, the reporter provides a series of photographs and videos of these “really emotional situations.” Yeah . . . I would like to call such journalism “Drudgesque Surrealism.”
Apart from Chuck E. drama, the graphs that Edsall and Sailer reproduce are fascinating. I would not have guessed that non-voting (“loser”) Democrats were the chief audience for fake wrestling or that voting (“employed”) Republicans were the main watchers of the Olympics in the U.S.A. I would not have thought that Disney viewers skewed slightly Democratic or were unlikely to vote, unless they count children. Parents who watch the Disney channel with their children (1) have cable, (2) have children with whom they spend entertainment time, and (3) gear such time around the children’s tastes. Such people must be overwhelmingly women, which might explain the Democratic edge, but don’t mothers vote? I was also surprised by the skew for Cracker Barrel customers. I fully expected them to be Republicans—white folks who enjoy old fashioned Southern cooking—but not people so likely to vote. That means that the Republican upper middle class likes to eat at Cracker Barrel. There are no corresponding chain restaurants for upscale Democrats because such folks tend to avoid franchises on principle and to live in places where the only chains are fastfood joints. In D.C., one must leave the city to access stores that are omnipresent in middle class suburbia.
I would like to wish my friends who will marry on Sunday the best in their future life together!
As an appropriate post for the occasion, I wish to share a cool function hosted by The New York Times: “How Many Households Are Like Yours?” Not only can you find out how many current American households are like yours based on the census, but the page also gives the historical trend. It is a fun sociological tool.
Dionysius the (Pseudo-)Areopagite was right (On the Divine Names, 4:23); even “Hell’s Bible” offers something good from time to time.
Steve Sailer recently reviewed Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion in Taki’s Magazine, on which occasion he commented about l’affaire derbiste and advanced his pet theory about leftist whites: “The Self-Righteous Hive Mind.” Haidt has surfaced in previous posts on Arimathea: “Your Morals,” where I post my results of Haidt’s morality foundations test, and “Leftist Self Mastery,” where one of Auster’s commentators brilliantly depicts the leftist soul. Sailer commends Haidt for his work, but he questions the researcher’s analysis that understands the American Left as an ideological heir to Millian liberalism:
What about white liberals? While “sanctity” didn’t mean much to J. S. Mill, is his thought the best guide to understanding the vast outpouring of rage and shock that the Derb’s advice to his kids about how to keep safe has elicited? Instead, Derbyshire is being punished for blasphemy, for articulating the secret heresies to which Americans are prey.
Haidt sometimes gets this, pointing out:
For American liberals…Anyone who blames victims for their own problems or who displays or merely excuses prejudices against sacralized victim groups can expect a vehement tribal response.
In the abstract, most liberals would say that efforts to protect children from violence aren’t wrong. But outside of The Righteous Mind, liberals (like most people) don’t think abstractly. They think in terms of “Who? Whom? Who is the designated victim group in this situation? Whose crimethink is ritually polluting us, like an untouchable’s shadow falling upon a Brahmin?”
You might imagine that potential crime victims would be a group worthy of sympathy, but they are not a “sacralized” bloc. They are just random losers. If they weren’t losers, they’d live in a better neighborhood.
Haidt almost stumbles upon the explanation for what distinguishes liberals from conservatives when he observes:
…political scientist Don Kinder summarizes…“In matters of public opinion, citizens seem to be asking themselves not ‘What’s in it for me?’ but rather ‘What’s in it for my group?’” Political opinions function as “badges of social membership.”...Our politics is groupish, not selfish.
As Avenue Q pointed out, everybody is a little bit groupish. Yet how do individuals decide whom to be groupish about?
What Haidt never quite gets across is that conservatives typically define their groups concentrically, moving from their families outward to their communities, classes, religions, nations, and so forth. If Mars attacked, conservatives would be reflexively Earthist. As Ronald Reagan pointed out to the UN in 1987, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” (Libertarians would wait to see if the Martian invaders were free marketeers.)
In contrast, modern liberals’ defining trait is making a public spectacle of how their loyalties leapfrog over some unworthy folks relatively close to them in favor of other people they barely know (or in the case of profoundly liberal sci-fi movies such as Avatar, other 10-foot-tall blue space creatures they barely know).
As a down-to-Earth example, to root for Manchester United’s soccer team is conservative…if you are a Mancunian. If you live in Portland, Oregon, it’s liberal.
This urge toward leapfrogging loyalties has less to do with sympathy for the poor underdog (white liberals’ traditional favorites, such as soccer and the federal government, are hardly underdogs) as it is a desire to get one up in status on people they know and don’t like.
In “Kantian Denaturing,” you may see whom I blame for this perversity.
Le Christ est ressuscité!
On the Orthosphere, Thomas Bertonneau has shared his response to some essays that a colleague sent him in the post, “Cycles of History, Hiatuses of Civilization, and the Western Prospect.” It is somewhat lengthy for a blog entry, but I found it fascinating. Of particular interest to me is the comparison of the ancient dark age that witnessed upheavals around the Near East with the European dark age after the fall of the empire in the West. Bertonneau and the sources that he musters claim that the most accepted narrative of the latter is faulty. According to this view, the fall of western imperial administration and the rise of Germanic kingdoms are not responsible for the dark age that followed antiquity. Rather, the dark age resulted from the Mohammedan conquest, which destroyed the civilization of the Near East, consequently disrupted trade, and therefore wrecked a complex economy that had developed since Hellenistic times from the British isles to India. Bertonneau analyzes the forces of civilizational destruction:
We know about the Late Bronze Age societies that they were prosperous and functional right up to the moment of their sudden violent dissolution. If Pirenne and Scott were right (and their evidence is massively convincing), we would know the same facts about the Late Classical societies of the early Seventh Century. They too were prosperous and functional right up to the moment of their sudden violent dissolution. Indeed, in North Africa, Spain, Italy, and Gaul, population and wealth appears to have been increasing in the two centuries between 400 and 600, reversing a trend of falling population and declining affluence that characterizes the Roman Empire during its final pagan phase. Justinian’s plague of 560s cut into populations all around the Mediterranean, but the recovery from it happened in short order. By 600, agriculture had become increasingly productive; the introduction of the moldboard plow brought new formerly hardscrabble regions into arability.
Thus the historical record offers two occasions – in the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age and in the Mediterranean world as a whole around 700 AD – when a network of kingdoms forming a single large mercantile economy collapsed precipitously under attack, with the immediate prolonged sequel of depopulation, de-coinage, illiteracy, and the return of primitive barter before the belated arising of a new civilization, in the form either of the Polis-civilization or the Frankish Kingdom.
On both occasions, the agency of destruction was a large-scale commotion of savage peoples whose interest in plunder cannot be separated from their nihilistic ire against the communities that they sacked. Whether it is the “Peoples of the Sea,” as indicated by Egyptian records, or “Arab Raiders,” as indicated by Byzantine and Spanish chroniclers, we confront a mobilized mass that forgoes the prospect of regular tribute or “protection money” for the sake of satisfying its urge for total punitive annihilation of the civilized “other.” Even the Assyrians, who were the scourge of their day, attacked to acquire, not to destroy. It is, to borrow Nietzsche’s word for it, ressentiment in action on a continental scale and in a holocaustic style. The remains of the burnt-out cities are filled with the arrowheads of the attackers, a sign that those attackers slaughtered the people. In Girardian terms, again whether it is the “Peoples of the Sea” or the Seventh-Century Muslims, the mentality of the destroyers can only be that the very existence of organization and wealth constitutes an affront to those who feel and believe their comparative inferiority to it. The invidious mass, in a spasm of covetousness, wants the things that the urbanites possess (the urbanites having very likely committed the folly of flaunting their chattels), but it plans to seize them only once, while simultaneously obliterating the means of producing them in all its tangible and intangible aspects, along with the producers themselves.
Now the Late Bronze Age “Catastrophe” has been known for a long time and the hiatus of civilization commencing in the Seventh Century AD has gradually been coming to light via its glaring archeological deficit for fifty years, but little cognizance of either event has entered into the journalistic discussion of history. Popular humanities discourse remains dominated by the liberal ideas of continuous “progress,” of an equation between early Christian Europe and cultural benightedness, and, as the Strauss essay puts it, of a vapid and yet fiercely dogmatic non-anthropology, deriving from the Enlightenment, that selectively refuses to locate an innate propensity for perverse or evil activities in human nature. The adjective “selective” is necessary because the ideologues of political correctness are quick to see evil in Christianity and the West, just as they are quick to treat Islam like a pet, whitewashing its intolerance and brutality. Reviews of Scott’s book – and the attitude of humanities faculties to Girard – show indeed a high level of emotional hostility against notions that violate the existing intellectual consensus, which in many instances is nothing less than a case of epistemological nihilism.
I do not know what to make of Bertonneau’s theory. At least in Britain, the dark ages appear to have begun before Mohammed was ever born due to the Romans’ abandonment of the island and the subsequent Germanic invasions. Perhaps, we Anglophones, as intellectual descendants of Gibbon, have inappropriately taken the history of Britannia as the general model for our understanding the West at the end of antiquity.
Bertonneau additionally wonders if the contemporary world might be on the brink of another epoch ending collapse induced by unappeasable destroyers—The Camp of the Saints meets the eternal return of the same.
Cristo ha resucitado!
In The Catholic World Report, James Kalb has a brief but insightful discussion of social justice in “Liberalism, Catholicism, and the Good” After Kalb points out the inherent problems in liberalism’s conception of the good as that which any particular person wants, he argues for the traditional understanding:
In fact, of course, the human good is far more complex, and far more part of how we live, than dominant opinion now assumes. When we are acting reasonably, we don’t want particular things that we think are good so much as a good way of life. We want particular things because we see them as part of a way of life that we aspire to, and believe we should aspire to, because it embodies a standard (such as closeness to God or an ideal of a life well lived) that seems worth living by. So the human good is not at all like having lots of money. Whether viewed from a commonsense, philosophical, or religious point of view, it’s part of a whole way of life infused with goods like truth and beauty that exceed our grasp and can’t be transferred or made to order.
Such a way of life requires more than the efforts of individuals, markets, and bureaucracies, the agencies liberalism accepts as authoritative. Other social institutions are needed to provide a setting for complex non-economic relations and commitments. A society can only be just and good if it helps the family be the family, communities be communities, the Church be the Church, and so on, all so that human beings can be human beings. Social justice isn’t a big, unified machine that delivers equal amounts of stuff to each of us and keeps us from interfering with each other, but a complex condition in which not only individuals but a variety of associations get what they need so that each can make its contribution to human life.
That is a basic point distinguishing Catholic social teaching, which takes the complexity of human goods seriously, from current views that make a unified, rational, and efficient system for satisfying individual preferences the goal of political life. Principles such as the right to life, the rights of the family, the complementarity of the sexes, the need for sexual restraint, the freedom of the Church, the real though conditioned rights of private property, and the general principle of subsidiarity are not arbitrary, dogmatic add-ons to a basically liberal view that identifies solidarity and the preferential option for the poor with a global welfare state. They stand for a radically different understanding of what makes for a good life and a good society.
That understanding accepts nature and tradition as basically good although needing correction, and it rejects centrally-administered social policies in favor of widely distributed initiative and authority. It is therefore the least tyrannical of all views. It is often considered conservative, because it provides support for traditional American ideals—patriotism, federalism, limited government, private property, freedom of religion, individual responsibility, family values—that are threatened by what liberalism has become. It is not simply conservative, however, because it moderates and completes those ideals, and brings out what is best in them, by bringing them into a connected system rooted in a definite understanding of God and man. Thus, for example, it makes private property a responsibility as well as a right; makes freedom of religion a public as well as personal matter by pointing to the place of God in human affairs; and supports and limits patriotism by loyalty to Church, family, and local community.
Liberals, libertarians, socialists, social capitalists, and Communists all see man primarily as a giant appetite. Is it a surprise, then, that when they succeed in directing a regime, its people let themselves be ruled by their passions? Such men are, as Lewis said, without chests, as well as being headless. They are but consumers that feast upon the sights, sounds, and touches of the world—grotesque beings with sense and sex organs that surround a stomach but with no heart. Perverse constitutions that misunderstand human nature cultivate perverse souls. Hey, let’s stop bothering with all this boring stuff and watch The Jersey Shore!
Cristo è risorto!
Last month, an Israeli-American graduate student at Johns Hopkins, Yael Miller, wrote two interesting pieces for Haaretz about how Israelis and Jewish Americans see each other:
“Why Israelis don’t understand Jewish Americans”
“Why Americans don’t understand Israeli Jews”
The “p.c.” (sic) tyranny that Miller has experienced in graduate school in Maryland may not be the most accurate representation of American Jewry. Regardless of their region of origin, American Jews tend to push the boundaries of our ridiculously narrow “acceptable discourse.” Even leftist Jews appear to abjure political correctness (sic), at least for themselves.
Moreover, who doesn’t check to see if the eggs are broken when he buys a carton? Does Miller think that we’re all schlemiels over here?
Charity shop worker drowned in lake just 3ft deep after firemen refused to wade in due to health and safety rules
* Drowning Simon Burgess, 41, was just 20ft away from firefighters but inquest hears they refused to save him
* Police officer who went in to water was ordered back
* Witness claims firemen told her they couldn’t go in if water was more than ‘ankle deep’
Our bureaucratic, technocratic regime fosters what Lewis calls “men without chests”—emasculated, automaton functionaries of a soulless monster. Instead of free men who pursue the good in a commonwealth, we have endless layers of subordinate cogs in a vast, self perpetuating machine. It is horrifying, and I hate to think that the masters of our society actually want to cultivate such weak shades, but “yes men” are, after all, easier to control. What has the West become?
Jim Kalb writes on View from the Right:
What robots. The whole point of training and what’s called education today is to eradicate what’s normal and substitute an artificial way of functioning. The good news is that it’s not going to last. The bad news is that what replaces it will probably be something pretty crude.
In fairness to Britain, I think something just like this happened in California a year or so ago. Some bystander went and saved the guy though.
Let us also remember that the firemen and policemen who let the man drown, far from experiencing any remorse for what they did or even any second thoughts, will doubtless congratulate themselves on their “integrity,” by which they mean following to the letter the prescribed bureaucratic procedures. (I pointed to the real, bureaucratic meaning of “integrity” in the recent post about NASA’s pursuit of diversity.)
So, to continue Mr. Kalb’s argument, “education” now means learning how to be an inhuman robot, and “integrity” means consistently putting into practice what one has learned during one’s “education.”
Commentator Josh W. responds to another comment’s arguing that we cannot blame policemen and firemen for these actions because they have to follow their organizations’ policies in order to keep their jobs:
Not so. This is the test of one’s moral fortitude: being forced to choose the “hard right” over the “easy wrong.” For most of us, only a few of these types of situations present themselves in a lifetime, and how we decide to deal with them can be said to define who, and how good, we are. The “kids to feed” argument is not compelling either—would this be an acceptable defense for, say, Mike McQueary (not sure if he had/has kids) when he saw Jerry Sandusky raping a young boy in the shower but chose to do essentially nothing about it? Would you argue that the fear of being unable to provide for one’s children justifies allowing a child rapist to continue his crimes? What if it was murder? Because that is what we are talking about here: allowing a person to die, for absolutely no reason at all other than concern for one’s financial well-being.
We must actively condemn not only the bureaucracy that produces this utterly inhuman, robotic behavior but also anyone who is complicit in its operation. We are only kidding ourselves if we imagine the two entities to be distinct. The system cannot function without well-intentioned but apathetic drones who shrug their shoulders in the face of evil and injustice and say, “But I’ve got bills to pay, dude!”
Even though I disagree with the radical liberalism behind the main interpretations of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments, I find the dehumanizing tendency of bureaucracy troubling. Perhaps, the mere complexity of a large, industrial society, which requires the proliferation of bureaucracy in government and commercial affairs, destroys its people and wrecks its civilization. Success has a tendency to undo itself, both in families and in societies.
There is an amusing post about “political correctness” (sic) in the press on View from the Right: “How else would we have known who is the Frenchman?” A LiveScience article, “Why Pygmies of Africa Are So Short,” features a photograph of French anthropologist Alain Froment with a group of pygmies:
The photograph’s caption reads, “Study researcher Alain Froment, of the Museum of Man in France, in the striped shirt with a group of Pygmies.” However, one of the pygmies is also wearing a striped shirt, but such did not occur to the editor. Auster notes:
The combination of rigidly orthodox PC with unconscious, non-PC instincts that subvert the PC orthodoxy makes this photo and its caption unique. To begin with, the editor who wrote the caption felt that he could not simply write, “French researcher Alain Froment with a group of pigmies,” because that would imply that Froment could be distinguished from the pigmies and identified as French solely from his physical, racial characteristics, which would violate the liberal dogma that race doesn’t matter. So he added the risibly superfluous information that Froment is wearing a striped shirt. But the poor editor somehow didn’t notice that one of the Africans in the photo is also wearing a striped shirt, making it equally likely, according to the editor’s own caption, that the African is the French researcher. But the editor didn’t notice that huge mistake, because, notwithstanding his extravagant PC gesture, he actually knew, though he couldn’t admit it consciously to himself, that it was perfectly obvious which man in a striped shirt is the French researcher.
Auster’s readers then have fun with this absurdity. Make sure to see the submission by Larry T. of another ridiculous picture and caption.