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January 2018

Quick, Men. To The Escape Pods

“We want to destroy the Conservative government. We want to bring down the Patriarchy.”

And if this doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will

In the UK, women and femme-identifying people have come under sustained attack by the Conservative government… But Phoebe Patey-Ferguson and Anna Smith didn’t want to give in to hopelessness. Instead, they decided to wrestle each other in their shared art studio in east London.

Chunky tattooed ladies channelling their inner umbrage. Part fetish, part psychodrama, part delusional politics - feminist fight club is apparently a thing now:

“Most of the spaces we perform in are queer spaces so often people haven’t been able to really allow themselves to feel the anger and rage that they do feel,” [says Patey-Ferguson]. “So often they are thankful to us for the space that we can feel that together… You don’t feel like you are locked in your room staring at the internet alone. There is a kind of empowerment in that, because if we express that together, there is a possibility of change.”

For these terribly radical ladies and “femme-identified” beings, fighting each other ineptly and accidentally cracking each other’s ribs - while screaming “Fuck you, Theresa May!” - is “a mode of resistance.”

And yes, there is video

They Reveal Themselves

Franklin Einspruch on our fearlessly radical aesthete caste

Last fall, the Guggenheim made quite the symbolic gesture of its own. As reported in the Washington Post, the White House asked the museum to lend it an 1888 canvas by Vincent van Gogh in which a man and his dog trudge through a snow-covered, vibrant landscape. A smarmy reply from the Guggenheim explained to the White House’s Office of the Curator that “Landscape with Snow” was unavailable… Instead, the museum offered a work of conceptual art by Maurizio Cattelan, a functioning toilet made from solid, 18-carat gold that had been installed at the museum during the prior year. “The work beautifully channels the history of twentieth-century avant-garde art by referencing Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal of 1917,” the email explained. It did not mention the title of the 2016 piece, which is “America.” 

When our self-imagined betters speak, it often pays to consider the psychology in play. In the case above, the Guggenheim’s artistic director, Nancy Spector, was prepared to publicly insult not only the First Lady but also, more importantly, everyone who voted for the current incumbent of the White House – half of the nation that the Guggenheim supposedly serves - in order to signal her own political edginess. As Franklin notes, one wonders whether Ms Spector believes that her display of disdain will help the wider cause of arts funding or encourage the kind of broader public interest that such organisations claim to want.

Perhaps she was too busy admiring herself to consider such details.

Harshing Your Mellow On A Daily Basis

In the pages of the Guardian, another pressing issue of the day:

Marijuana: is it time to stop using a word with racist roots?

Posing the question for a general readership, even one as fretful and agonised as the Guardian’s, is, however, somewhat misleading, given the author’s conviction that only “marginalised communities” have the “moral authority to decide if marijuana is a racist word which should be avoided, or an important reminder of a more racist past.”

Friday Ephemera

Local toughs. (h/t, Ben) || Lucas has been captured. || The London time machine. || The mothership wasn’t the first thing to land there. || “How big would the Solar System be if Earth were the size of a basketball?” || “His basketball game got better.” || Why dogs don’t rule the… Oh bugger. || Bond versus Bond in… Die Spy Kill Kill. || Acoustic tractor beam. || Hot steel malfunction. || It tells you quite a lot about who they are. || Lighthouse interior. || Best not to, really. || “Not a sweet smile.” || If she didn’t have double standards, she’d have no standards at all. || Gastro Obscura. || That star over there is much, much bigger than ours. || Owl buddies. || Bathroom scenes. (h/t, dicentra) || Birds in fog. || And finally, via Elephants Gerald, “I felt like my hands were just too big for this task.”

Elsewhere (261)

Further to the recent, eye-widening exchange between Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman, Conor Friedersdorf on scandalous paraphrasing: 

In the interview, Newman relies on this technique [of perverse rephrasing] to a remarkable extent, making it a useful illustration of a much broader pernicious trend. Peterson was not evasive or unwilling to be clear about his meaning. And Newman’s exaggerated restatements of his views mostly led viewers astray, not closer to the truth… One of the most important things this interview illustrates — one reason it is worth noting at length — is how Newman repeatedly poses as if she is holding a controversialist accountable, when in fact, for the duration of the interview, it is she that is “stirring things up” and “whipping people into a state of anger.”

Fabian Tassano on “critical thinking”: 

It is interesting that the scholars feel able to announce in advance, on behalf of their own students, and the students of other history tutors at Oxford, a decision on whether students will engage with the [Ethics and Empire] project. One might think that the ability to “think critically” would include openness to ideas from heterodox perspectives, as well as the capacity to decide for oneself, independently of one’s tutors, whether a source of information is worthy of consideration. One has to remember, however, that the word “critical” may have a special technical meaning in the context of the humanities.

Via Claire Lehmann, Kerryn Pholi on Aboriginal taboos: 

Those who mourn the demise of Aboriginal culture almost always regard things from the viewpoint of the men, who were indeed dispossessed of their land, and subsequently their traditions and status. Land wasn’t the only item of property they lost, however. They also lost or traded their women to the settlers, and this absorption – along with frontier warfare and disease – rapidly eroded tribal structures and doomed Aboriginal traditions to obsolescence. The settlers arrived with a wealth of goods and a shortage of females, and they were generally less enthusiastic about beating women than was customary in Aboriginal culture… The men lost a lot in the invasion, while the women had little to lose and plenty to gain.

And Joe Katzman on leftism as a never-ending status game: 

Do you have any doubt about the left’s hatred for those who will not stay in their assigned status? Have you noticed their quickness to turn on their own allies? Fail to follow the latest fad, and your status is demoted. Perhaps you’ve noticed that endlessly callous virtue signalling is the identifying badge of our modern try-hard Striver Class. Maybe that’s because American public education is now a 20-year Milgram Experiment, where the meta-message inside political correctness is to override your own judgement, in favour of deliberately-shifting judgements from people with higher status. These aren’t accidents. They’re clues.

Very much related, the second item here

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

Among The Little People

We are in fairly constant contact with furniture.

Yes, it’s time to sup from the deep, sorrowful well of feminist scholarship and thereby discover previously hidden knowledge. Specifically, regarding the “problematic” nature of preschool seating, on which Dr Jane Bone, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, focuses her keen mental cutting beam:

Then there is the ordinary chair, with a seat, back and four legs, usually arranged around a circular table… This chair is ubiquitous. I rarely go into an early childhood environment where there is not some version of this chair. Designed for children, it is sometimes metal, sometimes wooden, either painted or plain, but always – and this is my point – small.

Do try to keep up. This “child-sized furniture, suited to [a child’s] height and weight,” is of course the aforementioned problematic furniture, for reasons that will now become all too clear:

In my first intra-active encounter with the small chair,

Which I’m assuming entails bending one’s knees and lowering one’s buttocks.

I felt that it talked back to me

And what did the tiny chair say?

I felt that it talked back to me about the preschool as a workplace that is gendered, feminised, child-focused and ultimately disempowering.

Continue reading "Among The Little People" »

Friday Ephemera

Curses. || Art rock. || Russian dashcam road movie. || Scenes from a pencil factory. || Minguk, Manse and Daehan are triplets. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Bruce is handy with a pair. || These memo pads are much fancier than yours. || The pig war of 1859. || The shortest borders in the world. || Bark and soil. || A brief history of bread. || Tim Newman has written a novel. || We live in strange times. || A typical Alaskan street fight. (h/t, Darleen) || Dead malls. || Seagulls in Delhi. || 1477 glasses. || Flashback of note. || The fox and the owl. || Wee. (h/t, Damian) || This. || It can happen. (h/t, dicentra) || I need 100 Yen and I need it now. || And finally, because you demanded it, posture-correcting, hydration-sensing, Bluetooth-enabled biometric underpants. iOS and Android compatible.

At All Costs, Paraphrase

Or, A Demonstration Of Patience.

“You’re saying we should organise our societies along the lines of the lobsters…”

In this largely unedited video, Channel 4’s Cathy Newman interviews Jordan Peterson

I use the word interview quite loosely. In fact, I propose a drinking game, in which you take a shot of tequila every time Ms Newman somehow misses the point entirely and interrupts with the words, “You’re saying…” 

Continue reading "At All Costs, Paraphrase" »

Elsewhere (260)

Roger Kimball on “shitholes” and theatrical indignation: 

And here we come to a second curiosity in the preening and ecstatic outrage over the president’s comment. Everyone, near enough, knows that he was telling a home truth. It was outrageous not because he said something crude that was untrue. Quite the contrary: it was outrageous precisely because it was true but intolerable to progressive sensitivities. In other words, the potency of taboo is still strong in our superficially rational culture. There are some things — quite a few, actually, and the list keeps growing — about which one cannot speak the truth or, in many cases, even raise as a subject for discussion without violating the unspoken pact of liberal sanctimoniousness. Donald Trump, of course, does this regularly, delightedly.

Tim Newman on the same: 

Trump’s comments are pretty innocuous to anyone who is not a deranged anti-Trumper or a fully paid-up member of the media or political establishments. He’s asked the question millions of people across America and Europe have been asking for years, waiting in vain for their leaders to do so. And now he has, and the reason his opponents have gone apoplectic is because they know how much this will resonate with ordinary people they wish didn’t exist. That, and they wish to virtue-signal in order to keep their places in what they think is polite society.

And Mitchell Gunter on the posturing of Antifa - and sociopathy as a lifestyle choice: 

Continue reading "Elsewhere (260)" »