June 15, 2015
Kevin Williamson on cultural critic Lee Siegel and other student loan deadbeats:
The justifications are piled high: [Siegel] comes from a modest background and finds it unfair that other people have had advantages denied him. He declares it “absurd” — making no case, only the declaration — that he could “amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college.” Never mind that his borrowing and spending was, in fact, reckless, and that an Ivy League degree or three is every bit an item of conspicuous consumption and a status symbol as a Lamborghini.
To default on a loan because you do not wish to pay it back is theft, in this case theft from all of us, since the federal government is on the hook for the loans in question… We hear variations on Siegel’s argument that education is a social good, that we should be glad to have spent whatever sum we spent in order to avail ourselves of his “particular usefulness to society.” This is an example of the special-snowflake philosophy of social organisation: Yes, your feminist slam-poetry collective is very, very impressive — but even T. S. Eliot went to the office six days a week when literary life wasn’t paying the bills.
It’s hard to feel much sympathy for someone - a grown man in his fifties, writing in the New York Times - who believes that paying his debts as agreed, as millions of others do, would entail wasting his life, due to his enormously artistic “usefulness to society,” i.e., his self-imagined talent as a profound and insightful writer. A claim somewhat undermined by his own self-flattering article and its thin rationalisations. The short version of Mr Siegel’s article would be, “Fuck you, taxpayers. I’m an artist and intellectual.” But that wouldn’t present him in the all-important and very much expected Heroic Victim Light.
On the subject of student loans and baffling choices, see also this and this.
Ed Driscoll probes the mental fever swamp of Ms Naomi Wolf. Including her theory that American troops building field hospitals in Liberia were actually there to secretly take Ebola back to the U.S., and thereby justify “emergency measures” and “quarantining Americans.”
Theodore Dalrymple shares a tale of underclass moral squalor and the role played by the state:
Never in the book is there any recognition that a mother whose children meant “the world” to her should not leave them in the care of an obvious psychopath or go to bed so drunk that she does not even realise that she has vomited in her sleep.
Needless to say, it’s not a happy tale and not for the squeamish.
Franklin Einspruch on the art media’s fawning over “mattress girl” Emma Sulkowicz:
Her piece, entitled “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),” was named by Jerry Saltz of New York Magazine one of the best art shows of 2014. That’s not the sort of thing we usually think of as a show, but never mind. “This work is pure radical vulnerability,” he gushed. Ben Davis of Artnet wrote that it was “almost certainly already one of the most important artworks of the year,” and furthermore praised its “thoughtfully composed symbolism.” Roberta Smith wrote for the New York Times, “it seems certain that the piece has set a very high standard for any future work she’ll do as an artist and will also earn her a niche in the history of intensely personal yet aggressively political performance art.”
Because slandering a fellow student in the most appalling way possible – and being given course credit for doing so – makes her radical, and brave, and so terribly non-conformist.*
And Roger Kimball suggests new signage for the modern campus:
Cigarettes manufacturers are required to ornament their wares with all manner of alarming advisories, why shouldn’t institutions of higher education face similar requirements? After all, the noxious atmosphere they diffuse is perhaps even more dangerous than cigarette smoke, which harms only the body. A college education threatens to eat away at a student’s soul and capacity for a healthy, robust, adult emotional life.
Feel free to share your own links and snippets below. It’s what these posts are for. *Added via the comments.