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January 01, 2014

Comments

Sam

And no doubt people will say I am limiting myself by purposely avoid [sic] books on the basis of an arbitrary factor.

Or just showing off like lefties do and sounding like a tit. How brown does an author have to be to meet with her approval?

Joan

Short version: "Look at MEEEE!"

BenSix

I too am sick of the "formulaic fables" of Tolstoy, Joyce, Nabokov and Heller. When will those people stop telling the same old stories of, er - people doing things. And when will we open our eyes to the literature of places other than our own? I heard about these authors called Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka the other day. You should check them out.

P T Barnum

[This year] I will only read opinion pieces written by authors who are not from precious Islingtonesque backgrounds. I will not be reading anything written by Progressive/Guardian/"POC"/holier-than-thou authors (unless previously digested by one D. Thompson).

First new year's resolution I've made for years. Thanks, Sunili.

The Sage

Given the copious amounts of shite produced under the label of literary novels, she could do worse for her reading material. Of course when I read almost exclusively Japanese light novels, people call me a disgusting weeaboo.

splotchy

Poor Govinnage and her restrictive racist pretensions. As well as being determined to judge a person's creative worth by their colour, as opposed to their actual creativity, she also perpetuates the basic leftist error of assuming that the groups of people she chooses ie 'western europeans', 'white people' are homogeneous identikit people of equal background, experience and talent. It fails to occur to her that everyone is different and what they bring to a novel is rarely defined by anything as trivial as their skin colour.

svh

[This year] I will only read novels written by authors who are not from western-European backgrounds. I will not be reading anything written by white authors.

Let's hope none of the translators are white.

Watcher

I will only read words written with black ink! I will ignore the fact they are written on white paper!

rjmadden

What's that, a Guardian writer has started the year with some pretentious moral preening? I'm shocked at this turn of events.

Rafi

[This year] I will mostly be sniffing my own farts.

Close?

sackcloth and ashes

'Let's hope none of the translators are white'.

Good point, well made. After all they could be inflicting epistemic violence on the original works, just like the evil colonialists that they are.

mojo

For years, I was convinced the Gruaniad was a humor magazine. No, really.

Who knew?

WTP

A bit off-topic but in the general spirit of the last couple posts, found this to be a good read.

http://soldiercitizen.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/the-femininization-of-everything/

David

Quizzed on how to define “writers of colour” and thereby exclude those who don’t count as sufficiently swarthy and exotic, Ms Govinnage says,

“...of colour” is a fairly standard term in social justice circles these days, and it’s different to “coloured.” I didn’t say “black writers” because I’m keen to read novels from Latin America, Asia, Middle East, etc, and also I wouldn’t call someone black unless they self-identified as that first.

But those who don’t fit her expectations of the exotic can be waved aside as “white,” regardless of any comparable subtleties. No fretting there.

splotchy

Yes, it is hard to understand why being 'black' is deemed to be almost optional in that one has to 'self-identify' in order for the term to be valid - whereas being 'white' (and thus tainted in Govinnage view) can be declared with confidence.

It must make things very difficult for Govinnage, all the mixing and migrating that make such defining such a challenge. How much more straightforward it would be if she could simply appraise people by virtue of their actions and personalities, or in a novelist's case by their literary skills, like er, pretty much everyone else.

Henry

I popped over to bid you all a happy new year with the words "Oh here we go already..." and a link to this piece. But you're just too quick.

And the first comment has been deleted - along with 19 others on the first page. They are keen to say business as usual! Is some poor sod there busily deleting away on New Years Day? That's motivation.

Oh and we get to hear various excuses, some old some new, for why it's ok - in the fight against racism - to be nasty about white people.

I think I know one or two book groups where the writers-of-colour policy is followed already. These characters are so keen to have their 'outlook' broadened. That'll be vast amounts of irony with my hangover, please.

svh

in social justice circles

Where (as our host would say) the fun never stops.

David

Where (as our host would say) the fun never stops.

I suppose that depends on whether your idea of fun extends to categorising people, patronising them and fretting about how “of colour” they are.

In a national newspaper.

Anna

and fretting about how “of colour” they are. In a national newspaper.

She has to make a big deal out of it or no-one will notice how much better than them she is.

David

And the first comment has been deleted - along with 19 others on the first page. They are keen to say business as usual!

No other national paper does comment deletion quite as vigorously as the Guardian. And the criteria for deletion are remarkably elastic. But for some people I suppose deleting contrary opinions is the sweetest plum of all. It’s diversity all the way down, you know.

pst314

Sunili Govinnage does not go far enough: In order to really prove her progressive bona fides, she should refuse to use any technology that was in any way a product of Evil Western Civilization. Doing without computers and the internet would make it difficult for her to submit stories from her current home in Indonesia, but doing without modern medicine might reduce the length of time that this would inconvenience her. ;-)

Horace Dunn

Perhaps she could include a book by Thomas Sowell on her 2014 reading list. He'll pass the colour bar that she's established and will likely provide her with a different perspective, and challenge her prevailing narrative. This is exactly what she wants!

pst314

"Perhaps she could include a book by Thomas Sowell on her 2014 reading list. He'll pass the colour bar"

But he's not a real, authentic black man. White liberals and black racists have proved that he is just an oreo for The White Man. /sarc

dcardno

Well, if that also means giving up on Karl Marx that might be a net win, I suppose. Somehow, I doubt she casts her net so wide.

Rich Rostrom

Nothing by "west-Europeans". So writing by Latvians, Ukrainians, Greeks, or Armenians would be acceptable? No, only non-white authors, she says.

But what about Kazuo Ishiguro? Not white. But definitely west-European, so I guess not.

There's a lot of submerged racism here. The conflation of non-white with non-European is a pretty obvious part of it. Ishiguro is proof that one needn't be white to be European these days.

The other rather obvious part is that one needn't be west-European (or even European) to be white. There are lots of Middle Easterners and North Africans who are indistinguishable from many Europeans. Israelis, for instance.

Still, I could see deciding that for the next year, one won't read anything by authors in Europe or descended from Europeans, just to get outside of one's usual scope. One can even be snobbish about that without making or implying a political statement. For one thing, one doesn't have to commit to reading "important", "significant" literature. Mysteries, romances, pop history, action shoot-em-ups, science fiction... I think one would learn a fair amount about how the rest of the world thinks by reading such stuff. "I'm culturally broader than thou." Not better, just broader.

However, I don't think that's her idea here. There's definitely a sense of non-(white or European) = "morally superior".

TDK

refuse to use any technology that was in any way a product of Evil Western Civilization

As a typical product of western centric education you will not be aware that all western technology is either stolen from others or else would not be possible without the original contributions of non-westerners. We stole printing for example.

sackcloth and ashes

'Perhaps she could include a book by Thomas Sowell on her 2014 reading list. He'll pass the colour bar that she's established and will likely provide her with a different perspective, and challenge her prevailing narrative. This is exactly what she wants!'

She could also read Salman Rushdie or V. S. Naipaul. Or Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'The Caged Virgin'. Hell if she really wants to have her mind blown she could read some of Yukio Mishima's stuff.

TimT

I had the same thought as SVH. Relying on translators is kind of cheating.

Dr Cromarty

She could always try Shusaku Endo or Ayako Sono, two Japanese Catholic writers. I'm sure she'd really enjoy Sono's deeply conservative views.

JuliaM

"No other national paper does comment deletion quite as vigorously as the Guardian. And the criteria for deletion are remarkably elastic."

I'm utterly astounded that mine hasn't been zapped (yet). Must try harder...

David

Given the overt racial framing and the subsequent blather about identity politics and “social justice,” I can’t help wondering if there’s something less noble lurking behind Ms Govinnage’s literary posturing. I somehow get the feeling that her reading choices won’t be about challenging preconceptions so much as reinforcing a narrative that flatters her existing leftwing views. Will those “new stories” she seeks be filtered by some other, more political criteria – say, a worldview of victims and oppressors - as so many of her supporters inadvertently imply? (For some reason, I’m reminded of the ridiculous Marxist academic Nina Power, who tells us she broadens her mind by “reading some leftwing account of whatever place it is” she’s visiting. The scenery may change, but the politics is always there and always the same.)

And only the Guardian could take the (ostensible) subject of reading more widely and end up leaving an aftertaste of narrowness, dogmatism and obnoxious racial presumption.

Dave M

They love doing awkwardly unnatural things for one year lately. Then they write a book and talk about it on NPR.

Rebuttals by Martin Bashir

JuliaM

"For some reason, I’m reminded of the ridiculous Marxist academic Nina Power,..."

Who features on my blog today. Serendipity, eh? ;)

sackcloth and ashes

'I’m reminded of the ridiculous Marxist academic Nina Power, who tells us she broadens her mind by “reading some leftwing account of whatever place it is” she’s visiting'.

So one 'broadens one's mind' by reading only stuff that conforms to one's own ideological opinions. Just as one broadens one's cultural horizons by ruling out reading anything by a particular author because of his/her race.

David

Julia,

I saw. I love how she imagines “the right to protest” means a right to indulge in behaviour like this. Apparently terrorising people, imposing on them, trapping them and trashing their property should have no consequences. Like so many of her peers, Ms Power has shown us, time and time again, that the Clown Quarter of academia is a playroom for people who don’t want to grow up.

Karen M

Brown-skinned woman congratulates self on only reading books by brown-skinned people.

AC1

'tis but a short mental distance to the islamist idea of only needing to read a single book.

pst314

"As a typical product of western centric education you will not be aware that all western technology is either stolen from others or else would not be possible without the original contributions of non-westerners."

You forgot the "/sarc" tag.

Henry

I'm utterly astounded that [my comment] hasn't been zapped (yet). Must try harder...

Mine was, within 30 minutes.

It was more or less a politer version of what I wrote above. Is someone getting paid by the deletion? Or perhaps they've set up some sort of alert every time I post, or some fool I've annoyed is flagging everything I say.

Ah, it's fun over at CiF !

Tom Foster

'Ah, it's fun over at CiF !'

And it just keeps coming!

'As an American biracial woman who passes as white, I live daily with a pronounced array of privileges… LGBTQ rights… complications within identity continue to overlap with the collective and individual experience of passing… underscoring intersectionality within American identity… coming out as a black woman of mixed heritage and my lesbian mother's coming out… another tension, a "triple consciousness" for passing as white, being black, but resisting America's definition of blackness… wary of appropriating a culture that is not her own… a trinity of identities that evades his gay Greek-American and Muslim identification… effectively othering gay people… socially enforced and deeply ingrained aspirational straight whiteness… overwhelming power of privilege…'

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/02/trouble-with-passing-race-sexuality-religion

All packed into one article. Head-spinning stuff.

sackcloth and ashes

'No other national paper does comment deletion quite as vigorously as the Guardian. And the criteria for deletion are remarkably elastic. But for some people I suppose deleting contrary opinions is the sweetest plum of all. It’s diversity all the way down, you know'.

Yep, when Mehdi Hasan wrote yet another diatribe for 'CIF' in July 2012, at least one commenter had his post deleted, on somewhat mysterious grounds. The comment was not threatening, abuse, nor did it feature the language of bigotry. But down the memory hole it went ...

http://hurryupharry.org/2012/07/09/quizblorg-vanishes-mehdi-hasan-at-cif/

David

But down the memory hole it went...

One of many examples; too many to keep track of. I notice Sarah AB says, “I don’t know why The Guardian would delete a comment which threw light on the reason that Mehdi Hasan is so controversial a figure. It makes them look silly and a little dishonest.” I can’t decide if she’s being coy or bizarrely naïve. Still, it must be exhausting to be a Guardian comment moderator. All that policing and deletion. There are so many facts one has to pretend don’t exist.

sackcloth and ashes

I'd describe Sarah AB as being deliberately coy, in this case. She's perhaps a little bit too polite at times, but she's switched-on.

Patrick Brown

DaveM: "They love doing awkwardly unnatural things for one year lately. Then they write a book and talk about it on NPR."

Here's a woman (whose "legal name" is apparently Beautiful Existence) who spent a year subsisting entirely on Starbucks products. She's previously spent a year living out of thrift shops, and another following the recommendations of Parents magazine. This year she's going to buy stuff from a sports equipment chain and learn all the sports therefrom. I'm no psychiatrist, but it sounds to me like she just wants somebody else to look after her and make all her decisions for her, while she mindlessly spends money. So progressive.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/meet-the-woman-who-only-ate-starbucks-for-an-entire-year

David

a woman (whose “legal name” is apparently Beautiful Existence)

I’m trying to picture the embarrassment whenever someone has to introduce Ms Existence to strangers. “And this is, um… er, well, a dear friend…” Presumably she has some witty abbreviation of her first name. Beaut? Beau? Bea? Boo?

David Gillies

A year is perhaps 2-3% of one's serious book-reading career. That's a pretty hefty part of the whole of which to deprive oneself.

dicentra

Via Instapundit: "EXCUSE ME, BUT YOU MUST NOT HAVE NOTICED MY VICTIM CARD. Sacks, 20, complained that the articles about her first essay didn’t include that she is a lesbian."

"While my sexuality is irrelevant to the topic of my article, it still is part of who I am and should not be ignored."

Egad. It's always disturbing when our analyses of their motives begins to show up, unironically, in their discourse.

ftumch

From "Clown Quarter of academia"...

http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2013/12/31/an-ecofeminist-does-milk/?singlepage=true

"Because milk is produced by female mammals, a feminist perspective seems to offer a logical foundation for such inquiry. From the start, feminism has been a movement for justice: at its heart is the centrality of praxis, the necessary linkage of intellectual, political, and activist work. Feminist methodology puts the lives of the oppressed at the center of the research question and undertakes studies, gathers data, and interrogates material contexts with the primary aim of improving the lives and the material conditions of the oppressed...."

David

dicentra,

It’s always disturbing when our analyses of their motives begins to show up, unironically, in their discourse.

Heh. It still amazes me how readily the absurdities of identity politics are internalised and regurgitated. It’s like catnip for prigs and narcissists.

sackcloth and ashes

'From "Clown Quarter of academia"...'

Marking an essay (which was in fact a very good piece of work) last March, I noticed that the student had quoted on Mariarosaria Tadeo, who asserts that 'Just War Theory rests on an anthropocentric ontology'. Given the fact that wars are waged by human beings, or at any rate machines operated by human beings, this is a stunning statement of the bleeding obvious dressed up in academic bluff-speak.

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