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July 2014

Elsewhere (130)

Matt McCaffrey on our left-leaning, status-conscious intellectual caste: 

Intellectuals do not participate in the market (at least not in the areas they write about), and do not generally rely on satisfying consumers to earn a living. Add to this their naturally critical attitude… and it is easy to see why intellectuals would be hostile to the market. In other words, intellectuals are often out of place in entrepreneurial societies. The growth of the intellectual class is not a response to consumer demand, but to the expansion of higher education. Passing through the higher education system does not necessarily confer valuable skills, but it often does convince graduates that work in the market is beneath them.

Somewhat related, this and this

And Theodore Dalrymple on crime and punishment: 

It is easier to forgive the evil done to others than to forgive the evil done to oneself, especially if in the first place we don’t really like those others to whom the evil is done. Then conspicuous forgiveness becomes a kind of sadism, an additional burden to bear for those to whom the evil was done: for as I know from clinical experience with my patients, the lack of proper punishment of the perpetrators of evil is itself a punishment of the victims of it, a punishment that is often long-lasting… This is because it removes from the victims all confidence that there is justice in the world or that anybody cares what happens to them.

This “conspicuous forgiveness,” a kind of vicarious tolerance, can be quite striking in its boldness and disregard for facts, with acts of savagery being met with improbable excuses and rhetorical diversions. Generally from a safe distance. In 2011, following the London riots, China Miéville, a middle-class Marxist and member of the International Socialist Organisation, claimed to be “horrified” that members of the press and public had used the word feral when describing the career predators and assorted thugs who, seeking excitement and a sense of power, had beaten passing pensioners unconscious and burned random women out of their homes. And who, on the arrival of firefighters, had dragged them from their vehicles and punched them insensible.

To use the word feral when describing such people was, Mr Miéville said, our “moral degradation far more than [theirs].” You see, by referring to such behaviour as savage and anti-social, we are the degraded ones in Mr Miéville’s eyes, the ones in need of chastisement. Our compassionate Marxist was hardly alone in his rush to invert reality and flatter the brutish, even as it became clear that an overwhelming majority of the looters, muggers and arsonists had previous convictions for similar crimes, an average of 15, and some more than fifty. Despite such bothersome details, flattery and evasion were very much the done thing as fellow leftists Nina Power, Laurie Penny and Priyamvada Gopal were happy to demonstrate. Presumably on grounds that none of the feral behaviour, the random beatings and violent predation, was being directed at them.

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.

Reheated (39)

For newcomers, more items from the archives.

I Don’t Think She’s Handling the Menopause Very Well

Rocío Boliver, a performance artist, “devotee of transgression” and author of “porno-erotic texts,” struggles with middle age.

There is of course a long and tedious tradition of self-harm in performance art. It’s hardly less common than nudity or faeces. Or anti-capitalist pablum. Though to be fair, some have embraced self-mutilation in a slightly less time-wasting and roundabout manner. In 1971 an artist named Chris Burden had a friend load a rifle and then shoot him in the arm. Mr Burden felt this would lead to him being “taken seriously as an artist.” Though it seems this colossal seriousness had to be reaffirmed three years later, when Burden felt it artistically necessary to have both of his hands nailed to the roof of a VW Beetle.

A Dining Room Comedy

The exquisite mealtime sorrows of the Guardianista male.

The bearer of these sorrows, David Dennis, has apparently spent an awful lot of time fretting about his wife putting food on his plate. I mean literally putting food on his plate, as when serving a typical meal. Given Mr Dennis’s rather pronounced Guardianista tendencies, it’s scarcely surprising that he’s also been fretting that other people, possibly people much like himself, may subsequently judge him for this patriarchal trespass, as if he and his wife were dreadful throwbacks to a darker, more primitive age.

Her Unspeakable Woes

Icess Fernandez Rojas isn’t being sufficiently affirmed by strangers, software and disposable paper cups. Something must be done.

It’s all very tragic. Our Guardian columnist just wants to “celebrate [her] uniqueness” in an “inclusive society” and her spellchecking software, the subtleties of which apparently elude her, is dashing those hopes. She isn’t being “validated” by Microsoft Word. It’s how utopias die.

There’s more to stroke and fondle in the greatest hits

Friday Ephemera

South Korea’s charming and subtle penis restaurant. // Pocket picnic blanket. // An Alien production scrapbook. // “Austerity” and “spending cuts.” // Spot the cuttlefish. // Cars with propellers. // Standing stones. // “The sexiest baritone hunks from opera.” Your mileage may vary. // Tree tents. // “One and you lose your reason; two and you’re on your knees.” // The smartphone case you’ve always wanted. // Why parents rarely want their children to be artists, part 9. // Death metal construction worker. // Making scissors. // Mechanical elephants and other projects. // Small magnet with big oomph. // Clay food miniatures. // Tiny burritos. (h/t, Ian Fleming) // Paper microbes. // And finally, we must de-beef the machine. 

The Patriarchy Made Me Do It

Not only are [young women seen as] objects, they are abject, terminally unable to cope with the exigencies of adult life, of the bewildering array of life choices modern society offers us, from vaginal butchery to jobs in the service sector.

Yes, I fear Laurie Penny is off her meds again

I hesitate to summarise what it is she’s banging on about in this extract from her latest book, as it isn’t particularly clear to me. Nor is it always obvious how one avalanche of hyperbole and assertion leads to the next. The joining logic is hard to pin down, let alone parse. It’s all rather impressionistic and yet terribly adamant. It’s sort of, “Self-harm-something-something-patriarchy-obviously.”

Western womankind is collectively imagined as a toddler let loose in a candy store, so overwhelmed by the range of options that it has an ungrateful tantrum and is sick on the floor. 

Collectively imagined. As so often in Laurie’s mental landscape, dark forces are at work although the evidence has been lost in a mysterious warehouse fire. We are, however, pointed to the “front pages of celebrity magazines,” on which, obviously, all sane people model their own, actual lives. We’re told that “Successful women on the verge of mental and physical collapse… is a myth that pleases the powerful,” though who the powerful might be is also far from clear. Can she mean the overwhelmingly female readership of Heat magazine?

Meanwhile, huge chunks of rhetoric fall from the sky:

Sometimes we get called rebels and degenerates and troublemakers, and sometimes we are known to the police. And sometimes, in the narrow hours of the night, we call ourselves feminists.

Because it just wouldn’t be a Laurie Penny article without some of that. 

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