Stardust Memories

“Never play anything that don’t sound right. You might not make any money, but at least you won’t get hostile with yourself.”

—Hoagy Carmichael, American composer, born November 22, 1899

469px-Hoagy Carmichael circa 1953

Hoagy Carmichael’s advice holds true outside of the music business. One of the worst things about the glacially slow pace of our transition to post-scarcity economics is that our political economy needs to employ millions of people in jobs that are so truly useless, or even harmful by any humane standard of value, that people have no option except to “get hostile” with themselves. Thus the pandemic of unhappiness and depression so characteristic of late modernity. Today’s Reading, On The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, explains the whole mess very well. (Oddly, Ian Fleming apparently felt that James Bond should look a little like Hoagy Carmichael.)


Edward Bernays, who was Sigmund Freud’s nephew (!), has the Last Word. He was one of the most truly influential people of the 20th century. A pioneer in the public relations and advertising business. Bernays experienced the power of propaganda and the nascent mass media in his work for the United States government during World War I. He was directly responsible for campaigns such as the one to sell women on cigarette smoking (“Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”), Proctor & Gamble’s Ivory Soap (“It Floats”), and to convince the public that water flouridation was safe and beneficial. He promoted the adoption of the term “public relations,” because the older and more accurate word “propaganda” had developed a bad name during the First War. Bernays seems to have taken a rather dim view of mass democracy, fearing that the public could be easily manipulated (by people like himself, presumably) to vote for the wrong candidates, or for bad policies. That’s the context for his remark about the importance of manipulating public opinion.

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

7:45AM Holyoke Women Business Owners Alliance Breakfast Meeting
12:00–2:00PM Easthampton Easthampton Don’t Eat Lunch Alone
5:00–7:00PM West Springfield Chamber Government Reception 2013
5:00PM Springfield The Business Network at Max’s in Springfield
6:00–9:00PM Springfield How to Start Your Own Business
Friday NOVEMBER 22
12:00-2:00PM Greenfield Don’t Eat Lunch Alone
11:30AM-1:30PM Holyoke Checkpoint 2013 Legislative Luncheon



The Last Word

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”

—Edward Bernays, Austrian celebrity, born November 22, 1891

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