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Elsewhere (286)

The Year Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began on a highbrow note as the University of Denver’s Professor Ryan Evely Gildersleeve informed the world that laziness is a “a political stance,” a way to “combat the neoliberal condition,” and a “tool for contributing to social justice.” Half-arsed incompetence is, we were assured, both radical and empowering. The professor also shared his belief that plastic is sentient. Inanimate objects also troubled Dr Jane Bone, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, who specialises in “feminist post-structural perspectives” and the political implications of problematic furniture. Dr Bone’s research involves quite a lot of “embodied knowing,” i.e., visiting IKEA and sitting on chairs. Her work, she revealed, is “not necessarily logical.” Further feminist insights came via Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, whose feminist fight club is “a mode of resistance,” because the spectacle of unhappy ladies body-slamming each other and breaking each other’s ribs is an obvious way to “destroy the Conservative government” and “bring down the patriarchy.”

In February, we turned our attention to the world of aesthetics, where performance artist Sandrine Schaefer presented her buttocks to the world then waited for applause. We also learned that space exploration is all about “abuse” and “male entitlement,” thanks to Women’s Studies educator Marcie Bianco. Ms Bianco, who claims that sending spacecraft to Mars is akin to grabbing ladies’ genitals, teaches “social justice courses” at Rutgers University and John Jay College.

The ability of Jordan Peterson to trigger fits of theatrical hysteria among leftwing students was a highlight of March, when an attempt to speak at Queen’s University, Ontario, resulted in memorable and telling scenes, as students unleashed their inner screeching id. Also memorable, though for very different reasons, was this short, rather lovely film by Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet. And at Simmons College, where recreational indignation is very much in fashion, and annual tuition is a mere $40,000, we learned that responding to a sneeze with the words “bless you” is problematic and oppressive, and that compiling lists of things that are problematic and oppressive, and therefore to be avoided, is itself problematic and oppressive.

In April, a radical socialist student group at Indiana University-Bloomington disbanded in fatigue, after protesting against “patriarchy,” “whiteness,” and the cost of campus policing made necessary by their own threats and acts of vandalism. The students were also upset that the university was enabling tomorrow’s “small business owners.” And the Guardian raised a question pressing heavily on minds everywhere, asking, “Can pot make you a better parent?

May brought us more from the Guardian, when the paper championed Teen Vogue as the future of woke publishing. Sales immediately plummeted. We also encountered Professor Melina Abdullah, Chair of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA., according to whom, calling the police is a racist and privileged act if the criminal in question happens to be black. Curiously, being granted a license to commit crime with impunity and no fear of police involvement, on account of being black, is in no way racist or a sign of privilege. The month also featured a compendium of inadvertent comedy in the form of articles by Laurie Penny; and in the art world, Sandrine Schaefer once again erupted with creativity.

In June, Rutgers history professor James Livingston, a contributor to Marxist Perspectives and Socialist Revolution, conveyed to the world his vehement hatred of white people, especially white children. We also learned that “dismantling the white supremacist hetero-patriarchy” is the first and foremost duty of small Portland bakeries, where a tardy customer’s melanin levels trump everyone else’s opening hours. And via the pages of Everyday Feminism, we bathed in the ectoplasmic knowledge of Ms Ixty Quintanilla, whose “resistance” to the trauma of a Donald Trump presidency entails “burning herbs mindfully” and pushing against trees.

The joys of “social justice” surfaced again in July at Midwestern University, where Hispanic students refused to pretend that they were oppressed by “white privilege,” and were instantly denounced as racist by sociology professor Maria Isabel Ayala. We also learned, via Everyday Feminism contributor Sophia Stevens, that minority employees shouldn’t have to do their jobs or be in any way reliable, on account of their fascinating brownness. Apparently, white employers should only enquire politely whether any brownish employees might be willing to consider doing whatever it is they’re being paid to do, and then accept ‘no’ as an answer. It’s the intersectional way. Meanwhile, in the sphere of woke culture, conceptual artist Nika López established “an intimate relationship” with an indoor pile of dirt.

August revealed more neurotic racial fixation at Birmingham University, where no evidence of prejudice against minorities has been found and where a taxpayer-funded scheme to unearth “unconscious bias” is nonetheless underway, with the goal of making white staff “feel uncomfortable” about their presumed, albeit invisible, racial animus. This presumption of collective guilt was aired even more vividly in the pages of the New York Times, where readers of pallor were reminded that any comforts they might have, however they were arrived at, are “unearned, the product of corrupt systems,” for which “every white person should be ashamed.” Having white skin, it seems, “marks you, inescapably, as an oppressor.”

Somewhat unobvious health advice arrived in September, care of the Guardian, where we were informed that diabetes and incontinence, when caused by obesity, can be referred to as “body positivity.” We were also reminded that taking selfies from above, to minimise double chins, is a form of “fatphobia” and inexcusably oppressive. Days later, the Guardian’s star columnist Zoe Williams warned of the dangers of jogging – specifically, that exercise “makes you rightwing.” And at Stanford University, Professor John Rickford noted that “Black Vernacular English” is widely viewed as less “trustworthy, intelligent and well-educated” than standard grammatical English, and should therefore be encouraged. Presumably on grounds that black graduates should give employers the impression that no actual education had in fact taken place.

In October, we learned that in woke academia citing dog-humping incidents as evidence of “rape culture” constitutes “very good work” and “excellent scholarship.” Philosophy professor George Yancy saddened readers of the New York Times with a lengthy and tearful apology for his own heterosexuality. Apparently, being aroused by women, while not quite rape in itself, is nonetheless, as it were, rape-adjacent and constitutes “a violent, pathetic and problematic masculinity.” Meanwhile, radical ladies at the University of Southern California attempted to topple the patriarchy by gorging on doughnuts and thick, liquid pudding.

November gave us another chance to marvel at the contents of the Guardian, where columnist Caspar Salmon was bewildered to discover that the “sexiest men alive,” as voted for by readers of People magazine, depart somewhat from his own ephebophile appetites. Elsewhere, in the pages of National Geographic, Nadia Drake and Lucianne Walkowicz declared a need for politically-corrected space exploration, from which the words frontier, colony and unmanned must be purged, thereby sparing astronauts from any risk of moral contamination. And the reliably left-leaning New York magazine invited us to sympathise with leftist women who blame their divorces, estrangements and sessions with psychiatrists on the continued existence of Donald Trump.

In December, footage emerged of Seattle’s far-left community in action, with masked ‘activists’ indulging in gleeful mob bullying and issuing elaborate, fairly convincing death threats, before invoking the trauma and personal violation of being observed doing so. A final browse of the Guardian introduced us to Professor David Runciman of Cambridge University and his insistence that six-year-old children should be allowed to vote in general elections, thereby ushering in an age of glorious socialism. And as the year drew to a close, we witnessed the exquisite sensitivity of Mr Roy G Guzmán, who describes himself as “a marginalised writer,” a man oppressed by the “violence” of people not liking his poetry.

Clearly, we must do as they say. Utopia demands it.

Comments

David

The flame-thrower is still unused?

I can see it from here. Taunting me.

David

Oh bugger. Now we’re on page two.

Governor Squid

Oh bugger. Now we’re on page two.

The Thread Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental gymnastics of our merry band of commenters.

The thread began on a highbrow note as jabrwok remarked on the value of having a summary of the year's absurdities shown all in one place.

This was followed by a number of the Usual Suspects presenting offerings to Our Gracious Host, and receiving oddly specific blessings in return...

juliaeryn

So I just did the bbc secret nationality quiz, but answered the questions like a total psycho, e.g. hit either 'strongly agree'/'strongly disagree' to reflect the most poorly on myself (e.g. hit 'strongly agree' to the suggestion I was lazy, or would frequently start arguments, and hit 'strongly disagree' to the notion that I handle stress well. I responded 'neutral' to a couple where no obvious value was to be had either way. The results then told me I was 'Japanese' - ouch! Was this quiz written by comic book writers in the 40s??
of course it is most likely that as I claimed the worst characteristics on diametrically opposed traits, my scores landed in the middle of the score continuums, which despite being quite awful, averages out my scores to represent a pretty neutral personality. And for whatever reason 'Japanese' was the best match for this.
But yeesh...This is an obvious point, but doesn't this go against the oft-repeated mantra that 'all cultures/people are the same/equal?' Plus, is there seriously research that supports the notion that some nationalities are more likely than others to 'do a thorough job' or 'start quarrels with others?'

Chester Draws

Plus, is there seriously research that supports the notion that some nationalities are more likely than others to 'do a thorough job' or 'start quarrels with others?'

Well, there is data that very strongly suggests that some cultures are more likely to end quarrels with knives, for example. The number of quarrels a culture starts isn't that important compared to the manner they end them.

And if you've ever lived in the Pacific Islands, you'd certainly know some cultures are less likely to do a thorough job.

Also the SJWs have to believe that cultures are different, since they take as a matter of faith that they don't differ at all biologically.

You can get into quite interesting discussions about the validity of all cultures if you take as your exemplar Aztec culture (mass human sacrifice is well known, but there's much in their ways worse than that). Seeing someone defend routine torture and ritual cannibalism is quite the thing.

Hal

The flame-thrower is still unused?

Meh.

This is a flamethrower.

Baceseras

Related to "meanwhile in Wakanda" and to the question "aren't all cultures the same?" -

Ernest Gellner writes (Conditions of Liberty, 1994):

When modern political parties were set up in newly independent Morocco in 1956, mountain tribes joined them in the old style, as they were habituated to doing with religious movements -- they did so as collectivities, with an oath and a sacrifice. A clan not an individual would join a socialist party, and a bullock would perish in the process.
 And, more distantly related, Edmund Carpenter jotted this note in 1963:
Prince Modupe left Africa for the United States where he studied anthropology, then worked for MGM as an actor & consultant. To avoid offending African governments, MGM insisted that no film on Africa resemble Africa. Modupe's task was purely creative: design buildings, songs, shields, dances, masks, even "languages," all of which Americans would accept as authentically African but which no African would recognize as his. Modupe was so successful in this that he convinced even Africans & they modified their art accordingly

Baceseras

Edmund Carpenter's note continues:

Modupe often phones me late at night when one of his old films is showing on TV. We watch on our separate screens while he provides a running background. Tribes, he tells me, were generally named after directors by adding vowels to their last names. Hair styles, while not authentically African, were real hair. Extras protested that long hair prevented them from dating girls. Their demands for additional pay were ignored until they began wearing, in the cafeteria, large rubber lips made by the prop department.

Carpenter's book is called Oh What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me (Holt, 1974). Highly recommended.

Mr Eugenides

Happy New Year, sir.

David

Happy New Year, sir.

Eugenides! A sighting! We are honoured.

And to you, sir.

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