Clown Quarter Chronicles

Those of you with a taste for academic papers that actively resist human comprehension may wish to follow the tweets of Amir Sariaslan, who catalogues some of the more challenging items in supposedly scholarly publishing

It’s an acquired taste, I know, but there’s a grim fun to be had in spotting the ostentatious and apparently random use of the word “neoliberal,” as, for instance, when pondering “neoliberal” orgasms and the “technology of sexiness.” Alternatively, music lovers can mull the pressing need for hip-hop to “escape from false consciousness and resist hegemony,” and some of you may be seduced by “queer architecture theory,” specifically, a “theatrical queer feminist interpretation of architecture.” Others may wish to while away their lunch hour with a paper “using straight and white teeth as a metaphor for straight and White identity,” thereby revealing how “straight White identities” are “arrogant and ignorant” and “often problematic.

No, please. There’s no need to thank me.

Elsewhere (179)

Via dicentra, Darleen Click finds a mother whose environmentalist pieties have produced a nightmare teenager: 

I can do nothing right in my teenage son’s eyes. He grills me about the distance travelled of each piece of fruit and every vegetable I purchase. He interrogates me about the provenance of all the meat, poultry and fish I serve. He questions my every move — from how I choose a car (why not electric?) and a couch (why synthetic fill?) to how I tend the garden (why waste water on flowers?) — an unremitting interrogation of my impact on our desecrated environment. While other parents hide alcohol and pharmaceuticals from their teens, I hide plastic containers and paper towels.

The mother in question, Ronnie Cohen, is a “freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area” who writes about “social justice issues.”

And Andrew Stuttaford quotes Peggy Noonan on lofty border policies: 

Rules on immigration and refugees are made by safe people. These are the people who help run countries, who have nice homes in nice neighbourhoods and are protected by their status. Those who live with the effects of immigration and asylum law are those who are less safe, who see a less beautiful face in it because they are daily confronted with a less beautiful reality — normal human roughness, human tensions. Decision-makers fear things like harsh words from the writers of editorials; normal human beings fear things like street crime. Decision-makers have the luxury of seeing life in the abstract. Normal people feel the implications of their decisions in the particular. The decision-makers feel disdain for the anxieties of normal people, and ascribe them to small-minded bigotries, often religious and racial, and ignorant antagonisms. But normal people prize order because they can’t buy their way out of disorder. 

I spotted a not dissimilar attitude, albeit in a different context, while watching this BBC documentary on the preservation and listing of despised Brutalist architecture - specifically, the notorious Park Hill estate in Sheffield, which embarrassingly dominates the city’s skyline. Note the romantic enthusiasm of the presenter, architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff, for this locally infamous eyesore, which is known chiefly for muggings, prostitution and the joys of dodging objects hurled from upper floors. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Dyckhoff does not live in, or near, Sheffield.) Note too, around 18:25, the views of Martin Cherry from English Heritage, who airily dismisses the preferences of Sheffield residents and insists that the local population will eventually come to embrace this “demanding” and “difficult” piece of “progressive” architecture.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.