Why was Bobby Kennedy “the platonic form of the charismatic”?

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[tweetmeme source=blogbrut]In a comment on this article I wrote

Dan Goodman describes Bobby Kennedy here as “the platonic form of the charismatic”. I would love to read first-hand accounts from those who actually experienced that famous charisma. What psychological effects did Bobby Kennedy make you feel? What was it about him that caused so many people to remember him as the ultimate in charisma?

According to Jack Newfield

Robert Kennedy was fearless to the cusp of reckless. I think there was some daring, of death, and fate, in, in what he did.

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2 responses »

  1. According to Bluesma

    Well, I am just adding my personal opinion, as an american, who has been living in Europe for the last 21 years.
    I do not think that Europeans are better than Americans in any general way. I do think there are differences between the cultures, and my personal judgements would place some things about each better than the others, in a very specific areas.

    One that might not be so controversial or surprising is that I think America has a highly developed sense fo independance and individual freedom, while the Europeans have a more highly developed sense of social cohesion and interdepedence.

    As part of the way they vehicle and focus on these values, the Americans call being social “being sheople”, being part of a herd mentality (a pejorative for them), and is associated with all the worst instinctive animal drives and appetites being unleashed.

    The Europeans, in a similar focus, call being independant being egotistical and selfish, being asocial and mentally disturbed, and is associated with all the worst instinctive animal drives and appetites being unleashed.

    Like a self fulfilling prophecy, they see their values confirmed most of the time in their culture- when you believe letting yourself go with the flow of the crowd will cause you to do bad things, you set yourself up to do exactly that if you try it.
    If you believe that following only your inner intents and goals will cause you to do bad things, you set yourself up to do exactly that if you try it.
    With our thoughts and values we seed our subconscious, and it listens, believes and obeys- and has a stronger say in our behaviors then we’d like to think.

    A european in a crowd or group allows themself to simply feel good and enjoy being in a group with others joyfully. My own husband and kids are european, and I am amazed how they can enjoy the most stupid or wasteful activities, simply because they are doing it with a bunch of others. If the activity is actually something like sitting on a bench for hours, I get irritated with the waste of time and focus. They are confused, “we’re not ‘Just sitting on a bench”, we’re exchanging! “they’ll say to me.

    But my deeply conditioned american thinking just keeps asking what are we DOING rather than how are we BEING. They exchange how they are right now- how they are feeling, how they are thinking. I’m all on what we are doing, what we are aiming for, what is our/my project, and am I going that direction?

    I’ve begun to call it the fuzzy, unfocused perception, in which the whole is taken in, instead of focus upon one aspect. The vision of the herd member or social animal is more all encompassing with wider vision of the ensemble of the environment. Whereas the focus of the predator is tightened in on objectives and has it’s own “blinders” letting all that is judged irrelevant to the goal leave focus completely.

    We Americans tend to use that predator vision. We are goal oriented, ambitious, and driven. Is this good or bad?
    I don’t believe it is either, but can be good or bad depending upon the context in the moment. One thing I have noticed is that when amongst social peoples of the wider prey vision, their attention is caught by you if you have that predator vision, in the same way that a lion on the other side of the pond will attract the attention of all the water buffalo. It puts them on alert, and in humans it can excite them, causing that sense of danger/sexual excitement.

    Despite my still operative american focus of ambition and will, I can percieve and comprehend the social mentality as valuable. Ultimately being “civilized” is being able to do this.

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