Sunday and Monday were glorious — unseasonably cool temperatures in the 60s, overcast and drizzly. We spent the days hiking in the national park. Now we’ve got the first truly scorching weather of the summer, perfect for spending time in the pool. Reading about stupid people saying stupid things online has taken a reduced role as a consequence. So, until I feel truly inspired to write something, here’s some links that might be worth your time.
Andrew Orlowski, “The Great Brain Scandal”
Yeah, I have to say, this doesn’t sound all that outlandish to me anymore.
Helen Andrews, “The New Ruling Class”
Lawrence Glickman, “Everyone Was a Liberal”
Zach Weinersmith imagines Nietzschean trucks (really, though, it’s unfair to single out any one of his comics; you should just read them daily).
Ben Sixsmith on the tiresome contrarianism of Spiked! magazine. I find them equally exasperating and stimulating, but on balance, I’m glad they exist in the media landscape.
Ed Krayewski on guns, or rather, to be specific, on empty political grandstanding, due process, and the amazing way in which people who can recite from memory a hundred reasons why the War on Drugs has been a catastrophic failure and a moral travesty can still convince themselves that a War on Guns would somehow avoid the same problems.
Sonny Bunch on “artisanship”, i.e. the culture war commissars.
Working hard. Traveling far. Very tired. Here’s links. Nothing to add. Good articles. You read. I rest now.
• Lionel Shriver, “Gender — Good for Nothing“
• Arnold Kling, “Cultural Intelligence“
• Russell Jacoby, “Academe is Overrun by Liberals. So What?“
• Yohan John, “Persons All the Way Down“
• John McWhorter, “When Slogans Replace Arguments“
Donald Trump is America’s collective rape fantasy. Deep down, they fully expect to settle down and spend the next several years having perfunctory relations with Hillary, but it gives them such an illicit thrill to imagine being ravished by that beastly orange man with his stubby little hands. I’m not judging anyone’s kinks here, but it is getting a little boring having to hear you moan about it countless times each day. Try a little harder to keep it private, hmm?
I read Thomas Chatterton Williams’s memoir, Losing My Cool, last summer and found it engrossing. I recommend checking it out, but until you do, here’s a couple more recent articles from him worth reading. One, on everybody’s least favorite buzzword, privilege:
What is more harmful — and pervasive in these disillusioned last days of the first black presidency — are the ways in which left-leaning discussions now share assumptions with the worst conservative and even white supremacist ideology. Whether put forth by racists or anti-racists, the insistence that, as James Baldwin noted, it is a person’s “categorization alone which is real and which cannot be transcended,” is oppressive. When genuinely anti-racist views lead us to the same practical conclusions an open bigot would embrace — that black life is miserable compared with white life — we give white people too much credit and strengthen the status quo.
The false choice between acknowledging the repugnant history of racism that informs the present, and the wish to accept the reality that a growing number of black people may nonetheless experience the freedom to define ourselves, is infantilizing. What this current moment of protest and awakening must lead us to, if it is to lead us anywhere, is a dignified means of fully inhabiting our ever more complicated identities.
It’s a strange and ironic double diminishment: first to feel oneself aggrieved, and then to conclude that the best response is to bask in fragility and retreat into an artificially indulgent social context. There is something utterly dehumanizing about being fit to a demographic profile, reduced to the sex or color of a body. While I may not be able to control how I look or how others perceive me, I control absolutely the ways I perceive myself. The idea that minorities need bubbles betrays an internalized sense of inferiority. When we concede public space as inherently hostile instead of deliberately claiming it as our own — as Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others did in the Sixties, as the gay-rights movement did more recently — we perpetuate and reinforce some of the very biases we seek to counteract.
Just as troubling, the growing power and influence of the appeal to vulnerability transforms it from a strictly defensive (if ineffective) tool into an increasingly potent method of intimidation that can silence even meaningful disagreement.
Though there are individual exceptions, the absence of Beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness; and in degenerate tribes wholly without, or very deficient, there is a conscious want of manly dignity, and contentedness with a low physical, moral, and intellectual condition. Such tribes have to be sought for by the physiologist and ethnologist; the historian is never called upon to do honor to their deeds.
— Thomas S. Gowing, The Philosophy of Beards
If your response to an artist’s death is “how does his life/his work align with my political values” you are a GD philistine.
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) January 11, 2016
Evergreen truth right there. In fact, I’d suggest it’s also true of those who treat living artists the same way.
I hardly know what to say about a world in which a ventose fraud like Slavoj Žižek is taken seriously as a leftist visionary and a moral panic profiteer like Anita Sarkeesian is hailed as a feminist leader. Thankfully, when it comes to Sarkeesian, at least, Liana Kerzner has said more than 23,000 words over a five–part series of posts explaining why the modern-day Tipper Gore is every bit the tendentious hack you suspected she was. I’m not even a gamer, and I found it engrossing, so perhaps you might care to give it a look-see. (Hat tip to Will Shetterly.)
Have you ever wished you could drop some change in a tip jar here, or buy me something off an Amazon wish list in appreciation for all I do to stimulate and entertain you? Well, I appreciate the thought, even if I invented it on your behalf, but I’d rather urge you to put that generosity toward a more worthy cause. Scott and Mary’s shitty autumn has gotten a whole lot shittier, and they could use your help. I kicked in some of the extra money I earned this week, because I wouldn’t ask people to perform charity that I’m not willing to do myself.
Scott gave me one of my earliest blogroll links, which has brought me at least a few of my most dedicated readers, and he’s a better and funnier writer under extreme duress than I am when completely relaxed and carefree. Plus, here’s a bonus fun fact: of all the blogs I was reading back in 2003, World O’Crap is the only one that is still worth reading today. Go make good things happen to good people for a change.
Isaiah Berlin was one of my most formative intellectual influences. He single-handedly engendered my enduring fascination with the history of ideas. I plan on re-reading all of his books soon, right after I get caught up on all the new books I’ve accumulated recently. Which brings me to my point: the NYRB has republished a short acceptance speech of his from twenty years ago which elegantly encapsulates a couple of his most fundamental, recurring themes. I do implore you to go read it, as it would be bad form for me to copy and paste the entire thing, a powerful temptation indeed.