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April 2015

We Need More Cushions

Katherine Timpf detects more sorrow among the competitively sensitive

A student at Harvard University published an op-ed on Wednesday complaining that her school’s “safe spaces” are just not safe enough. According to Madison E. Johnson, her time spent in the “safe space” was really great at first — there were “massage circles,” “deep conversations,” and “times explicitly delineated for processing and journaling.”

Yes, journaling and massage circles. Readers who studied at less glamorous institutions will no doubt feel the ache of deprivation. Don’t you yearn to display undiluted your “more radical views,” free from laughter, contradiction and accusations of pretension? Which is to say, though not out loud, free from other people? All this in a “beautiful” space, one that’s “rife with consciousness.” Though preferably only yours. Is that too much to ask?  

But then it all changed.

Ah. It turns out that a fellow seeker of safety needed a space in which to air their “more radical views,” specifically, their radical poetry:

A white poet gets on stage and says the n-word a few times.

A student poet going rogue. And so,

I’m realising “safe space” might mean different things for different people.

It’s a learning curve, that whole reciprocity thing. What with the radicalism and all.

The poetry slam presents the real question. At this point in reality, can there even be a truly safe space? 

You see, if it’s even remotely possible that “any facets of your experience or identity… could be mobilised against you,” thereby causing you “harm, panic, anxiety, disadvantage” – or fits of pretentious hysteria – then the space you’re in “is not safe.” “And you shouldn’t call it safe, because that is dangerous.” Despite such complications - complications that no mortal brain could possibly have anticipated - Ms Johnson is clear about what a safe space means to her:  

For me, a safe space is one in which I feel that I can express all aspects of my identity without feeling that any one of those aspects will get me (including, but not limited to) judged, fired, marginalised, attacked, or killed.

Yes, killed, as in killed to bits. Possibly by radical poetry. In a safe space that is “dangerous.” On a campus where tuition and board costs $60,000 a year.

Reheated (43)

For newcomers, more items from the archives:

Dissident Academic Feels the Warmth of Social Justice

Or, “If you expose our student indoctrination policy we will punish you.”

According to numerous students, the course’s instructor demanded that they recognise “white English” as the “oppressors’ language.” Without explanation, the class spent its session before Election Day screening Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. When several students complained to the professor about the course’s politicised content, they were informed that their previous education had left them “brainwashed” on matters relating to race and social justice.

Crotch Funk as Art

In which I hammer culture into your tiny minds.

Sweat is a performance piece by Peter De Cupere, choreographed by fellow Belgian Jan Fabre, in which five dancers spend fourteen minutes rolling about and jumping up and down - naked, obviously - while attempting to fill their transparent plastic overalls with all manner of body odour. “The intention,” we’re told, “is to catch the sweat from the dancers and to distil it. The concrete of the sweat is sprayed on a wall of the dance lab and protected by a glass box. In the glass is a small hole where visitors can smell the sweat.” Yes, you can smell the sweat. If that’s not a good night out, I don’t know what is.

The Sound of Wringing

To show how virtuous they are, and therefore superior, Guardian columnists stick pins into their eyes.

One needn’t be a cartoon Tory to marvel at Decca Aitkenhead’s classic 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.

There’s more, should you want it, in the updated greatest hits

Friday Ephemera

Please don’t try drilling into your head at home. // 75 hours of drawing in under 2 minutes. // 3D-printed car isn’t fast or pretty. // Floating flower garden. // Fractal forest. // Fluids in a fish tank. // Low frequency fire extinguisher. // Frost. // Free sausage roll. (h/t, Julia) // All the types of Spam. // Symmetrical breakfasts. // Bespoke chocolate faces. Price on request. // A boy and his bird. // I suspect these people may be nerds. // 900,000 photographs of historic New York City. // This. // Commute with a better class of riff-raff. But only in San Francisco. // San Francisco’s summer of ’71. (h/t, Coudal) // An uncompleted tomb. // Soviet pilot cemetery. // Super-typhoon seen from space. // And finally, what happens when you combine Pong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders? 

Elsewhere (156)

Daniel Hannan on poverty and its alternatives: 

“Like slavery and apartheid,” Nelson Mandela told 20,000 people in Trafalgar Square ten years ago, “poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” They were inspiring words, and the crowd duly went wild. But the old man was talking utter, unadulterated bilge. Poverty is not “man-made”: it is the primordial condition of all living organisms, including humans. It is wealth that is “man-made.”

John Leo on the latest campus fundamentalism: 

The National Association of Scholars released a 260-page report on how far the new [definition] of “sustainability” has spread, particularly on campuses. Credentials can be earned in 1,438 distinct college programmes and its message now extends to such unlikely subjects as English composition, mathematics, art history and psychology… Under the argument that true sustainability requires an end to social oppression, the report says, the movement embraces identity politics, calls for the overthrow of patriarchal systems and misogynist bias, the virtual elimination of extraction of energy from fossil fuels, an end to industrial development in the underdeveloped world and a return to subsistence or near subsistence standards of living. The need to overthrow capitalism, though not supported by all, is a common and much discussed theme in the movement.

And Bill Whittle on 16-year-olds and voting: 

Teen voters, the younger the better, are exactly what the left is looking for. They know no history; they base all of their decisions on emotion; they have no real world experience in terms of what works and what does not. They haven’t the slightest idea of discipline or delayed gratification. They live in a world of fantasy and wish fulfilment; they make demands that cannot be met but they’re willing to settle for an ice-cream cone. They are utterly dependent on others; they’re desperate to conform to the cultural norm, and in general they are the perfect, pliable, ignorant, utterly emotional, reason-free, easily-manipulated vote farm that the progressives need for their power grab.

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