Posts Tagged ‘moral panic’
Historicizing the concept of the inevitable in literature presents many challenges. For inevitability is itself a theory of historical agency, and an adequate critical account must confront inevitability’s claims without simply falling back on conventional notions of freedom, originality, or creative expression. Indeed, the inevitable is not merely a discourse to be cataloged by positivist historiography; it names a threat to any attempt at making humanity the author of its own experience. In its antique versions, women and men chalked their situation up to fate and diagnosed their historical condition through prophecy. In the late medieval era, more sophisticated but equally deterministic accounts of humanity’s relationship to historical change came into circulation, such as Calvinist predestination, fatalism, modern compatibilism, probabilism, and the acceptance of political economy as a science. Eventually, Charles Darwin’s natural history posited the inevitability of extinction in conditions of scarcity. The politicization of inevitability and conflicting visions of civilizational collapse followed, with communism and capitalism each decrying the other as a doomed system to be overcome. Friedrich Nietzsche’s eternal return recast inevitability as the nonlinear recurrence of intensifying crises. Walter Benjamin wrote of an angel of history who is condemned to look back on the wreckage of civilization. Today, in the wake of both historicopolitical optimism and existential pessimism, notions of the Anthropocene present a fatal paradox: the effects of human industry have set in motion a geological transformation that modern civilization might well not survive. The concept of the inevitable spins these discourses into a common thread, as so many attempts to diagnose the fundamental problem of human agency’s internal limits as expressed in time, along with whatever consolatory freedoms we might draw from our constraints.
* It is easy for left academics to be seduced by a rhetoric of public consumption for our work, since most of us see theory and practice as intermingled. But the American case should stand as warning for British academics. For many years, Usonian scholars chased the mirage of being “public intellectuals”. Few realized, however, that this means depending on their institution to protect them from the onslaught of a rabid conservative media machine. When the dogs of reaction barked in the culture wars, though, American deans slunk away, fearing damage to their own managerial careers. Progressive scholars without the protective benefit of a strong Left were abandoned to fend for themselves against unfair odds, since the spectacular “public sphere” is never a level playing ground in the age of Fox News.
* A Medievalist on Savage Love. Hi, Matt!
* “2015 is my 25th year of adjunct teaching.” Oh, oh no.
* Complaint Claims University Where Student Was Killed Failed To Act On Relentless Yik Yak Threats. Horrifying story on every level.
* Another moral panic against a left-wing academic. Six more weeks of winter.
* The University of California, Santa Cruz, was established in 1965 and has long been known for its radicalism. But officials’ reaction to a recent protest against tuition hikes suggests that times have changed.
* The rise of “mama.” Interesting to see something we didn’t even know we were doing laid out like this.
* Report: Defense Dept. paid NFL millions of taxpayer dollars to salute troops. Would you like to know more?
* The University of Nevada, Reno, a land grant research university, is recruiting for a Coordinator, Innovation and Transformation. This could be the most buzzwordy, administrative-bloaty job ad of all time. It gets better/worse.
* The most senior Baltimore police officer charged over the death of Freddie Gray used his position to order the arrest of a man as part of a personal dispute just two weeks before the fatal incident, prompting an internal inquiry by Baltimore police department.
* The ghetto was a deliberate policy invention, and investing in a path out of it would have been completely contrary to the point of creating it.
* “I think we’re ready for capitalism, which made this country so great,” he said. “Public radio is ready for capitalism.”
* Why cloth diapers might not be the greener choice, after all. I’ll believe anything on this subject to be honest.
* “She’s likely to be in her twenties or thirties, middle-class, probably married, probably Christian, probably average intelligence,” Harrison said. “I just described, you know, your next-door neighbor.”
* The arc of history is long, but.
* Kim Stanley Robinson explains his great new novel, Aurora.
* …as long as critics and publishers frame African literature as always on the cusp, it will continue to be an emerging literature whose emergence is infinitely deferred. It will remain utopian, just out of reach.
* Also from Aaron Bady: ‘House of Cards’ Should Stop Trying to Be ‘The West Wing.’
* How One University Unexpectedly Found Itself Ranked Among the ‘25 Most Dangerous Colleges.’ This is pretty horrifying, even before you get to my intuition that this is all prelude to an extortion scheme.
* Teaching evaluations: still bad! Don’t use them!
* Remember the Maryland parents who let their two kids walk home from a park alone and then had to deal with police and child protective services? They heard from the state today. The couple was found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect, a confusing charge that resolved nothing and left the couple possibly more nervous and paranoid than ever.
* Pharrell Made Only $2,700 In Songwriter Royalties From 43 Million Plays Of ‘Happy’ On Pandora. Disruptatational! Innovasmagoric!
* And from the too-good-to-check file: Profile of Hulk, a 175-pound pit bull.
*Ferguson, Missouri Community Furious After Teen Shot Dead By Police. Family of Michael Brown, Teenager Shot to Death By Ferguson Police, Talks About His Life. Michael Brown remembered as a ‘gentle giant.’ Now, riots.
Abstract: In addition to documenting and sharing information geek culture has a complementary norm obliging others to educate themselves on rudimentary topics. This obligation to know is expressed by way of jargon-laden exhortations such as ‘check the FAQ’ (frequently asked questions) and ‘RTFM’ (read the fucking manual). Additionally, the geek lexicon includes designations of the stature of the knower and the extent of what he or she knows (e.g., alpha geek and newbie). Online feminists, especially geek feminists, are similarly beset by naive or disruptive questions and demonstrate and further their geekiness through the deployment of the obligation to know. However, in this community the obligation reflects the increased likelihood of disruptive, or ‘derailing’, questions and a more complex and gendered relationship with stature, as seen in the notions of impostor syndrome, the Unicorn Law, and mansplaining.
* While emailing with a colleague yesterday, I realized that I had never really written about the so-called “spacecraft cemetery” of the South Pacific, a remote patch of ocean water used as a kind of burial plot for derelict satellites.
* “The alternative to partition,” he said, “is a continued U.S.-led effort at nation-building that has not worked for the last four years and, in my view, has no prospect for success. That, Mr. Chairman, is a formula for war without an end.”
* World War I, as Paul Fussell famously argued, discredited what Wilfred Owen in a classic poem called “the old lie”: that it is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country. But what it has meant to shift allegiances from nation to “humanity” has changed drastically over the 20th century among those flirting with wider and cosmopolitan sensibilities. Namely, the highest goal shifted from the abolition to the humanization of war.
* I was told on numerous occasions that I was going to face a general court martial on six or seven charges. Then word came down from Washington to discharge me quietly. An honourable discharge. Maybe the thinking was that the peace movement didn’t need a martyr.
* So much dBilown the memory hole: Reconsidering the Legacy of Bill Clinton.
* Drilling Company Owner Gets 28 Months In Prison For Dumping Fracking Waste Into River. Sad that this would be so shocking.
* Giant urban sprawl could pave over thousands of acres of forest and agriculture, connecting Raleigh to Atlanta by 2060, if growth continues at its current pace, according to a newly released research paper from the U.S. Geological Survey.
* What could possibly go wrong? Armed Right-Wing Militias Amassing Along Texas Border With State Lawmaker’s Blessing.
* But it’s not all bad news: Yellowstone Is Not Erupting And Killing Us All.