For newcomers, more items from the archives.
The woes of being leftwing and insufficiently black.
One needn’t be a cartoon Tory to marvel at Decca Aitkenhead’s classic Guardian piece Their Homophobia is Our Fault, in which she insisted that the “precarious, over-exaggerated masculinity” and murderous homophobia of some Jamaican reggae stars are products of the “sodomy of male slaves by their white owners.” And that the “vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies… a failure to accept post-colonial politics.” Thus, sympathetic readers could feel guilty not only for “vilifying” the homicidal sentiments of some Jamaican musicians, but also for the culpability of their own collective ancestors. One wonders how those gripped by this fiendish dilemma could even begin to resolve their twofold feelings of shame. It’s important to understand these are not just lapses in logic or random fits of insincerity; these outpourings are displays – of class and moral elevation. Which is why they persist, despite getting knottier and ever more absurd. Crudely summarised, it goes something like this: “I am better than you because I pretend to feel worse.”
A black man buys truffles. The Guardian is thrilled.
This “new kind of spending” - buying overpriced fungus - is much more radical than buying Rolex watches, ostentatious cars or cases of Cristal champagne. It’s a thrilling development in “black identity.”
Academic Wrongthought™ and the narrowing of minds.
A study of 24,000 students conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 2010 revealed that only 30.3% of college seniors strongly agreed with the statement that, “It is safe to hold unpopular opinions on campus”… The students were downright optimistic compared to the 9,000 campus professionals surveyed. Only 18.8% strongly agreed that it was safe to hold unpopular opinions on campus... As the sociologist Diana C. Mutz discovered in her 2006 book Hearing the Other Side, those with the highest levels of education had the lowest exposure to people with conflicting points of view, while those who have not graduated from high school can claim the most diverse discussion mates. In other words, the most educated among us are also the most likely to live in the tightest echo chambers.
Meet Ms Nadio Cho: student, titan, radical shagger.
“It’s best to have some empty shelves toward the bottom so that you can climb them and feel like Spider-Man while your partner penetrates you standing up.”
Know your place, peasants.
My local publicly-funded galleries of contemporary work, one of which is a glorified coffee shop for two dozen middle-class lefties, can be relied on to disappoint - and to go on disappointing - precisely because there’s no obvious mechanism for correction. No box office takings to fret about, no bums on seats, no ghastly commercial metrics need be considered. And so the featured artists, or pseudo-artists, can expect taxpayers to serve as patrons, whether they wish to or not, while being immune to the patron’s customary discrimination between promising art and opportunist flim-flam. The expectation that one must be exempt from base commerce, and by extension the preferences of one’s supposed audience and customers, is an arrangement that rewards and encourages the peddling of drek. Yet Liz Forgan and her Arts Council associates would have us believe that an interest in visual culture, music, etc., should coincide with an urge to make others pay for whatever it is that tickles you, or for whatever is deemed to improve the species by Liz Forgan and her colleagues, i.e., People Loftier Than Us.
Update: In light of today’s news, this seems relevant:
Claire Berlinski on Margaret Thatcher and her loftier enemies.
When asked why intellectuals loathed her so, the theatre producer Jonathan Miller replied that it was “self-evident” – they were nauseated by her “odious suburban gentility.” The philosopher Mary Warnock deplored Thatcher’s “neat, well-groomed clothes and hair, packaged together in a way that’s not exactly vulgar, just low,” embodying “the worst of the lower-middle class.” This filled Warnock with “a kind of rage.”
There’s more, so much more, in the greatest hits. And patrons are reminded that this rickety barge is kept afloat by the kindness of strangers.