Posts Tagged ‘ideology’
* “‘The best way to interview is nonpregnant and ringless,’” that respondent said, adding she was only able to land a job after she kept her family secret during the interview process.
* Cheating on a quiz I can understand, but cheating in a quiz bowl? Oh, Harvard.
As I pointed out in “Anderson Fails at Arithmetic,” this allegation misleads the reader in two ways. Inequality has been reduced enormously under Chávez, using its standard measure, the Gini coefficient. So one can hardly say that in this aspect, Venezuela remains the “same as ever.” Making Anderson’s contention even worse is the fact that Venezuela is the most equal country in Latin America, according to the United Nations. Anderson’s readers come away with exactly the opposite impression.
* The Jobs Crisis at Our Best Law Schools Is Much, Much Worse Than You Think: At some top tier schools, more than a fifth of students are underemployed.
* Investigators say Wilson County Deputy Daniel Fanning on Saturday was showing his weapons to a relative in a bedroom of his Lebanon home when the toddler came in and picked up a gun off the bed. Sheriff Robert Bryan says the weapon discharged, hitting 48-year-old Josephine Fanning. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
* High school students in Newark will walk out of classes today at noon, marching to Rutgers Law School to attend a State Assembly budget hearing on education funding.
(some shamelessly borrowed from you-know-who)
* Britain paid reparations for slavery? That’s fantast–oh god.
The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.
* Fathers matter, but so do grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Indeed, it may take as long as 300-500 years for high- and low-status families to produce descendants with equal chances of being in various parts of the income spectrum.
* 7 Obscure Children’s Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature. Joyce! Twain! Woolf! Eliot! Shelley! Tolstoy! Wilde! 7 (More) Obscure Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors. Huxley! Stein! Thurber! Sandburg! Rushdie! Fleming! Hughes!
* Actually existing media bias: Glenn Greenwald on what’s become of MSNBC.
I wonder: does someone who goes from being an Obama White House spokesman and Obama campaign official to being an MSNBC contributor even notice that they changed jobs?
Susan Sontag once wrote that every mass art form is practiced and experienced as “a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.” Zero Dark Thirty’s critics, unwilling to understand themselves as the film’s intended audience, instead imagined that “real Americans” were being made tools of power through one of their most important social rites: moviegoing. What these critics did not confront was their own need to fend off anxiety. For Maya, as for many Americans, the anxiety has to do with the inadequacy of Osama bin Laden’s death as consolation for all of the disasters that preceded it. How else to explain the manic focus on proving that torture did not contribute to the search for bin Laden? It suggests a kind of desperation, a desire to hold up just this one episode as separate and different from the rest of the war. This desire is Zero Dark Thirty’s true subject, as well as the object of its critique.
* The Princess and the Trolls: The Heartrending Legend of Adalia Rose, the Most Reviled Six-Year-Old Girl on the Internet. People are the worst. Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the classic expression of this idea belongs to none other than the outgoing pope, Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was asked on Bavarian television in 1997 if the Holy Spirit is responsible for who gets elected. This was his response:
I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope. … I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.
Then the clincher:
There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!
* Hayley Schafer chose her dream job at the age of 5. Three years later, her grandmother told her that if she wrote it down, the dream would come true. So she found a piece of blue construction paper and scrawled on it with a pencil: “Veterianian.” “No one told me how to spell it,” she remembers. “They just said, ‘Sound it out.’ ”
At the age of 30, she still has the sign, which is framed on her desk at the Caring Hearts Animal Clinic in Gilbert, Ariz., where she works as a vet. She also has $312,000 in student loans, courtesy of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Or rather, $312,000 was what she owed the last time she could bring herself to log into the Sallie Mae account that tracks the ever-growing balance.
* Stay Free or Die Tryin’: Scenes from the student protests at Cooper Union.
* Hidden behind a false wall and a fast-food restaurant, large black and brown images depict the faces of seven UCLA alumni, symbolizing the struggle of social activism and black history.
It simply couldn’t be simpler:
As an experiment, I generated this for the back of the second paper prompt in my American Literature course, following up on the flowchart I’d made for the back of their first prompt. In my mind, at least, this clarifies the sorts of choices one has to make about a text before one begins to perform an ideological analysis of it, as well as showing visually (through the greyed-out 45° line) which sorts of texts intellectuals tend to valorize and which they tend to scorn.
I’ll let you know if the experiment works in actually clarifying anything for students…
* Austerity: not all bad? Meat Industry May Shut Down For Weeks Due To U.S. Spending Cuts.
* The Journal-Sentinel profiles Einstein Productions, a Milwaukee non-profit founded with the help of the Marquette University College of Communications providing job training assistance to people on the autism spectrum.
* Natural gas and oil production is the second-biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gases, the government said, emboldening environmentalists who say tighter measures are needed to curb the emissions from hydraulic fracturing.
* Winter in an era of climate change: “We will see a shorter snow season, but more intense individual snowfall events.”
* Boston University student tasered for throwing a snowball at a cop. Seems proportional.
* According to the new survey, 54 percent of Americans approve of using drones to kill high-level terrorism suspects, while 18 percent disapprove and 28 percent are undecided. … But support for drone strikes in the new HuffPost/YouGov survey dropped to 43 percent if the terrorism suspects are U.S. citizens, with 27 percent disapproving and 31 percent saying they’re not sure. If innocent civilians may also be killed in the process of targeting terrorism suspects, only 29 percent approve of using them and 42 percent disapprove. I’m amazed the numbers are that low, to be honest. Perhaps there’s an opportunity here to leverage Republicans’ knee-jerk hatred of Obama for anti-imperialist ends.
* The surfeit of attention paid to the figure of the entrepreneur in the present moment reveals it to be an object of impossible longing, a fiction riven by ideological contradictions. He—it is usually a he as portrayed in media—is an abstraction but also manifest as a Mark Zuckerberg or a Peter Thiel. He is both an idea and a real person. The distance between the two—mirrored in the gulf between what he is meant to stand for and what we are supposed to do in emulating flesh-and-blood entrepreneurs—reveals some of the deep contradictions in how we live our lives and how we think.
“I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered and libeled me,” Dorner writes, who identifies throughout his manifesto as a patriot whose core beliefs have been shattered. He realizes that he has, as we might say, ‘lost the plot’. He’s happy to tell you why that is, and why he believes he has to divert his killing skills away from the people they were intended for, and against those who trained him. His manifesto or letter, titled simply, ‘Last Resort’. is addressed to America, in a final plea, perhaps, that they address the heart of darkness that lies at its core. The heart of darkness which turned Christopher Dorner from a man who believed that he could best serve his country by working as a navy reservist and LAPD officer, to a man who believed he could best serve his country by destroying the LAPD entirely using the skills he learned in the navy.
* And you’ve always wondered: how does AOL make money? The Atlantic reports.
This predictable objection ignores—as do many, many of the surveys of faculty employment conditions that I’ve seen recently—the fact that not only do most of these ‘unemployed’ PhDs have jobs, most of them have several jobs, and are in fact teaching the equivalent of a full time load or more. They’re just doing it for crap money at several universities, to the detriment of themselves, their families, and their students.
In other words, somehow—and I don’t understand how this happens except as a case of what Lacan called ‘foreclosure’—we keep treating overworked adjuncts as if they’re actually unemployed.
* A week ago, no-olds was a novelty; today it is one of the profession’s most cherished traditions. I’ll just recycle my jokes from Twitter: “Anyone who’s been on market longer than that knows how quickly Harvard and Yale turn asst profs over. They want it to be a surprise.”
* When ideologies collide: Man Accused of Threatening Woman with Handgun for Smoking While Pregnant.
* Chait: Mitt Romney created his most recent campaign shitstorm by launching an attack that was, simultaneously, an absurdly disingenuous argument built upon a series of demonstrable lies. After an initial period of recrimination andlashing out at the media, Romney and his allies are insisting that he was absolutely correct all along. It is a remarkable testament to the party’s ability not just to engage in spin but create and sustain an alternate reality. Meanwhile, SEK is having too much fun with his smirking-Mitt meme.
* Should We Stop Referring to Student Loans as “Financial Aid”? Researching 2000s college aid admissions on behalf of my brilliant cousin, it’s struck me how decisively “no-loan aid” has become a new marker of elite status in recent years for Ivy and Ivy-Plus schools.
* Lost and Found: NPR has all your vintage photographs.
* And of course you had me at “New Monkey Discovered.”
Chad Black and Scott Eric Kaufman (1, 2) have done a great job publicizing the now-famous “No Olds” ad at CSU English, to the point where the ad has now been revised and the MLA Executive Council will take up the matter for discussion at its next meeting. What I hope won’t be lost in all this is the extent to which—regardless of the actual, unknowable intentions of the CSU search committee, and the thorny question of whether this particular ad meets the legal standard for age discrimination—explicitly posting the criteria by which the decision will be made can easily be seen as a kindness to applicants from a search committee that knows how bad the market is and wants to be as honest and transparent as possible.
From this perspective the real “crime” of the CSU ad looks like Žižek’s ideology—the crime is not in doing the thing but in accidentally admitting it, saying it out loud. The crime, in other words, is really at the level of the utterance, and the “punishment” (such as it is) is being forced to retract the utterance.
But nothing has happened that will stop CSU or any other search committee from continuing to make decisions on any secret, unpublicized criteria they like, legal or illegal; what has happened is that committees will be less inclined to be similarly honest and transparent about their decisions and their real criteria in the future. That’s not much of a victory if the process ends here, because it encourages more mystification, not less, in the market.
So my hope is that when the MLA Executive Committee takes this up they do so at a level that pierces mere utterance, and attempts to gather real, concrete, material data about actual hiring practices, including this and other “secret criteria” for jobs that are being enforced without being announced. Then we can begin to talk with real specificity about what’s going on, and the consequences of this arcane and mystified process for the profession as a whole.
These contradictions don’t show that ideology is “irrational” — the problem is exactly the opposite, that there are too many reasons supporting their views. Žižek argues that these piled-up rationalizations demonstrate that something else is going on.
A similar sense that something else is going on always strikes me when I read a review of Žižek’s work in the mainstream media. (A recent example is John Gray’s review of two of Žižek’s books in the New York Review of Books, to which Žižek has responded.) Now academics are always ill-used in the mainstream press, particularly if they deal in abstract concepts and refer to a lot of European philosophers. Yet there’s something special about the treatment of Žižek. In what has become a kind of ritual, the reader of a review of Žižek’s work always learns that Žižek is simultaneously hugely politically dangerous and a clown with no political program whatsoever, that he is an apologist for the worst excesses of twentieth-century Communism and a total right-wing reactionary, both a world-famous left-wing intellectual and an anti-Semite to rival Hitler himself.
The goal is not so much to give an account of Žižek’s arguments and weigh their merits as to inoculate readers against Žižek’s ideas so they feel comfortable dismissing them. To find left-wing thinkers and movements simultaneously laughable and dangerous, disorganized and totalitarian, overly idealistic and driven by a lust for power is to suggest: there is no alternative.
Adam Kotsko spins some recent blog and Twitter observations into review-essay gold in the Los Angeles Review of Books with “How to Read Žižek.”
Žižek does not hold out the utopian hope of eliminating all conflict — in fact, he believes our supposedly “post-ideological” era is blinded by the truly utopian hope that all genuine conflicts might be resolved, allowing the system of liberal-democratic capitalism to go on more or less forever. What Žižek hopes for, in tracking down the contradiction at the heart of our society and identifying with the class that embodies it, is not that the world will no longer suck, but that it will no longer suck in this particular way, that we will no longer be stuck in this particular vicious cycle, that we can somehow find a way to stop frantically grasping at rationalizations for our self-destructive fixations and do something else — in short, to jolt us into the realization that there is an alternative.
Only villains try to change the world. This is an old one but it’s new to me.
* Star Wars Uncut: the last great surrealist masterpiece. I think a friend on Facebook really nailed the appeal of this when he pointed out the importance of this sort of “careful reenactment” in childhood consumption of media. In a sense Star Wars Uncut is what we were doing all along.
* Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.
* And I think someone in Parliament has been watching Dark Angel.
On the possibility of a nuclear missile being fired into space and exploded, he said: “I personally believe that it’s quite likely to happen. It’s a comparatively easy way of using a small number of nuclear weapons to cause devastating damage.
“The consequences if it did happen would be so devastating that we really ought to start protecting against it now, and our vulnerabilities are huge.”
‘Scrooge’s Rejection of Christmas Is Merely a Particularly Recognizable Subset of a Broader Rejection of Reproductive Futurism, and Is For That Reason Depicted as Monstrous’
Christmas is about capitalism—of course; everyone knows that, albeit usually in the context of bemoaning it. Sedgwick’s insight is that Christmas’s univocality allows each of these sites of power—capital, the state, “the” (heteronormative, reproductive) family, religion—to stand in as a metonym for all the rest. You buy Christmas presents because you love your family because the Christ-child loves you because you love the Child because the Child is the future of the nation, and round and round. Christmas has meaning, we are continually assured, and it is all the same meaning—the single, univocal meaning that the unmeaning sinthome both opposes and makes possible. If Christmas is about “meaning,” then a purely negative Scrooge is the reason for the season.
‘Ordinary People Hate Partisanship, and Elites Hate Ideology; Hence the Elite Is Constantly Attempting to Misrepresent the Latter as the Former’
The other day I was listening to an NPR call-in show about Occupy Wall Street, and I heard the kind of infuriating caller you often get on these programs, who lamented extremism and polarization and said that we need to work together with Wall Street to solve our problems, blah blah blah. But positions like that are only tenable in the wake of the elite campaign to efface all conflicts of interest or ideology, and replace them with the illusion that there is some technocratic compromise that would equally benefit the 99% and the 1%. Barack Obama’s latest move on behalf of that campaign is his bizarre argument that the democratic socialist Martin Luther King “would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there”. But this is no time to shrink from a bit of demonization. The best thing leftists can do to combat this sort of nonsense, then, is to help draw out and clarify the implicit class ideology of the protestors, rather than condemn them for not drawing political demarcations in the way we would prefer; as the young Marx put it, “We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.”
As if to respond to Alex’s concerns about the Matt Taibbi piece linked yesterday, Peter Frase argues we must reassert the difference between partisanship and ideology.