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December 2013

Friday Ephemera

X-rayed couples cuddling. // Grand Canyon clouds. // Ice drumming. // Dreams. // Macy’s inflatables. // Faces in things. // Giant snail facials “eliminate wrinkles and scars.” // How to draw butts. // William Burroughs croons. // 18th century mechanical blogger. // Baffle teenagers with a gallery of blank tape inlays. (h/t, Things) // At last, vagina toast. (h/t, Dr W) // Where in London? // Dancing robot spider. // Diving suits and pressure suits. // Race and dating. (h/t, Andrew Rowe) // And via R S McCain, don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Because Lying and Resenting is What Angels Do

Many moons ago, in a post on classroom radicalism and the grooming of students, I wrote

The problem is that adversarial role-play, like that of leftist academics Grover Furr and Rhonda Garelick, has little to do with reason, refutation or how the world actually is. It does, however, have a great deal to do with how those concerned wish to seem. In order to maintain a self-image of heroic radicalism - and in order to justify funding, influence and status - great leaps of imagination or paranoia may be required. Hence the goal posts of persecution tend to move and new and rarer forms of exploitation and injustice have to be discovered, many of which are curiously invisible to the untutored eye. Thus, the rebel academic tends towards extremism, intolerance and absurdity, not because the mainstream of society is becoming more racist, prejudiced, patriarchal or oppressive – but precisely because it isn’t. As mainstream society becomes less fixated by race, gender, sexuality, etc., so peddlers of grievance and victimhood must search out - or invent - something to oppose. Overstatement and escalation are all but inevitable.

This last point was illustrated with the ‘scholarship’ of Barbara Barnett, a graduate of Duke’s infamous humanities department, who claimed that college campuses have a rate of rape and violent sexual assault almost 1000 times higher than any credible calculation. Other, equally bizarre examples of activist ‘scholarship’ can be found in the archives, starting with this gem. You can imagine my dismay on discovering that my thoughts were not at all original, as Jeff Goldstein had demonstrated three years earlier

An obvious problem with the grievance aspect of identity politics is that the grievance needs to be perpetually maintained in order to justify the identity aspect of the politics. And in an era of academic specialisation wherein just about every individual identity group has its own set of researchers and theoretical champions - as well as a widely accepted generic narrative of grievance - the observation that continued relevance (which translates into political power) is contingent upon the nursing and care of the grievance is something that too often goes unexamined by a society that, at base, really does wish to understand and fix the problems and frustrations expressed by individual identity groups.

That nursing of grievance – from hoax hate crimes to hallucinated racism - is a subject that’s cropped up here many times since. It’s a trend that’s becoming increasingly surreal. As, for instance, when Kerri Dunn, a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College, slashed her own tyres and defaced her own car with abusive and racist messages, before walking over to puzzled onlookers and asking if they’d seen who was responsible. Despite being witnessed vandalising her own vehicle, Dunn protested her victimhood to faculty and police, citing a “crisis of hate” on campus, while students held rallies for “tolerance and diversity.”

With an eye to the latest such fabrication, involving an imaginative lesbian waitress named Dayna Morales, Daniel Greenfield takes it from there

Continue reading "Because Lying and Resenting is What Angels Do" »

Elsewhere (106)

Further to (for instance) this, Peter Whittle on the frightened arts and their irrelevance

Art has not shocked, provoked or otherwise challenged for years now. The belief that it does, should or could is almost endearingly quaint when one hears it voiced… If you doubt this, then try to think of a novel, play, film or piece of installation art which, for example, seriously criticises the doctrine of multiculturalism. With a tiny number of honourable and genuinely brave exceptions — Lloyd Newson’s DV8 dance troupe’s 2011 production of Can We Talk About This? being one — there is a deafening silence on what is one of the most urgent issues of our time. Similarly, the chances of the BBC commissioning a drama which explores the experiences of an ageing white couple in an area transformed by mass immigration — surely a subject with real dramatic potential — are virtually nil. And if such a project ever did see the light of transmission, the audience could be forgiven for predicting quite accurately all the conclusions that would inevitably be drawn. 

On a whole host of issues — foreign aid, climate change, social inequality — the viewer, gallery-goer and novel-reader, far from being shocked, provoked or given even a slightly alternative perspective, generally know exactly what they are going to get. For our cultural establishment, there is a right and a wrong way of looking at such issues and as a result the arts, far from being “challenging” or “cutting edge,” have essentially become the providers of window dressing, a sort of visual aid unit, for the views and assumptions of the political and media class.

Johnathan Pearce on deserving this and that

If a person is born with great intelligence and this enables him to create wealth, he might not “deserve” it, but neither do those lucky enough to be born in a world containing this person, so they do not deserve the fruits of that wealth, nor do they have the right to seize it on some spurious redistributionist, Rawlsian grounds.

And with these notable coincidences in mind, Mark Steyn notes some more

A couple of weeks back, cancer patient Bill Elliot, in a defiant appearance on Fox News, discussed the cancellation of his insurance and what he intended to do about it. He’s now being audited. Insurance agent C Steven Tucker, who quaintly insists that the whimsies of the hyper-regulatory bureaucracy do not trump your legal rights, saw the interview and reached out to Mr Elliot to help him. And he’s now being audited. As the Instapundit likes to remind us, Barack Obama has “joked” publicly about siccing the IRS on his enemies. With all this coincidence about, we should be grateful the President is not (yet) doing prison-rape gags.

How many makes a pattern?

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.