Four decades ago, Howard was my first editor, helping me break into print in The Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology. It was a big deal for me. Perhaps even more significantly, Howard also published a follow-up article, thereby ensuring that, metaphorically,

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I would not go down in infamy as a one-hit-wonder. Thanks, Howard. I needed that.

Several years later, shortly before I was asked to review his book, The Psychoanthropology of American Culture, I learned that Howard is an admirer of classical music. After a careful perusal of the book, it occurred to me that it would be appropriate to summarize my evaluation of what he had accomplished with a musical allusion. As Bruno Walter once said of Gustav Mahler, the best in music is “not… in the notes” (n. a., June 10, 2019). As I have said, “Music condenses but conceals reality” (Adams, Fall 1986, p. 502). This was followed by contrasting it with “the characteristic of The Psychoanthropology of American Culture that typifies its achievement and defines the essence of scientific aspiration that distinguishes it from art is that the most important part is, figuratively and literally, ‘in the notes’” (Adams, Fall 1986, p. 502). In the years since then, I’ve had no reason to alter my assessment.

Howard’s most recent book, with frequent co-author Seth Allcorn as the primary author—Psychoanalytic Insights into Social, Political and Organizational Dynamics: Understanding the Age of Trump—is a psychodynamic immersion into the societal malaise that presently threatens to engulf us in totalitarianism and civil war. It displays Howard’s ability to make comprehensible even the bleakest aspects of our collective life.

An earlier work sounded a similar note. In Nothing Personal, Just Business: A Guided Tour into Organizational Darkness, Howard tackled American capitalism’s deal with the devil years before the National Rifle Association hyped guns as the sine qua non of freedom and Trump touted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID. In both cases, as with the organizations in the book, the daemon was and is lucre. Stein (2001) wrote “Money is the currency that mediates life and death.… Money is used as the medium through which some persons or groups exert the power of life and death over others: the medium through which some may temporarily prove they are alive by sacrificing others” (p. 71). He went on to say “The exercise of that power is part of a culture-wide ritual to secure life magically through death. We literally try to purchase temporary life and organizational revitalization through personal death” (Stein, 2001, p. 71).

Accolades are in order for decades of rigor, effort, and achievement. Anthropologists are accustomed to cross-cultural

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practices, so here is my own extemporaneous hodge-podge. Cue the orchestra for a psychohistorical version of Tchaikovsky’s Mozartiana in honor of Sooner State Howard F. Stein. With palms together and a bow of the head, Howard, you are a mensch. Mazel tov for your exemplary contributions to psychoanalytic anthropology and psychohistory.

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References:

  • Adams, K. A. (Fall 1986). In the notes. Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology, 9(4).
  • n. a. (June 10, 2019). Studying performance practice through sound recordings: Gustav Mahler. Yale University Library. Guides.library.yale.edu/c.php?g=525668&p=4452898
  • Stein, Howard F. (2001). Nothing personal, just business: A guided tour into organizational darkness. Quorum Books.

Authors:

Kenneth Alan Adams

Kenneth Alan Adams, PhD, is on the board of The Journal of Psychohistory and previously served as a Co-Assistant Editor of The Journal with Howard. He can be contacted at kaapsysy@bellsouth.net.

How to Cite This:

Adams, K. A. (2022). A psychohistorical Namaskar for Howard F. Stein. In D. R. Beisel, P. H. Elovitz, & N. D’Andria (Eds.), Howard Stein Festschrift. Clio’s Psyche, 29(1), 100-102.

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