Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Zygmunt Bauman

Tuesday Night Links!

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* In case you missed it, last night I put up my syllabi for the fall, on J.R.R. Tolkien and American Literature after the American Century.

* Mark your calendars, East Coasters: Jaimee Hills reads from her award-winning book How to Avoid Speaking at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC on October 26. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that preorders are available now at Amazon and Waywiser Press.

* The world’s most popular academic article: “Fuck Nuance.”

That is the kudzu of nuance. It makes us shy away from the riskier aspects of abstraction and theory-building generally, especially if it is the rst and most frequent response we hear. Instead of pushing some abstraction or argument along for a while to see where it goes, there is a tendency to start hedging theory with particulars. People complain that you’re leaving some level or dimension out, and tell you to bring it back in. Crucially, “accounting for”, “addressing”, or “dealing” with the missing item is an unconstrained process. at is, the question is not how a theory can handle this or that issue internally, but rather the suggestion to expand it with this new term or terms. Class, Institutions, Emotions, Structure, Culture, Interaction—all of them are taken generically to “matter”, and you must acknowledge that they matter by incorporating them. Incorporation is the reintroduction of particularizing elements, even though those particulars were what you had to throw away in order to make your concept a theoretically useful abstraction in the first place.

See also: nuance trolling as academic filibuster.

* More ACLA CFPs: Utopia Renewed: Locating a New Utopian Praxis. Innovation, Creativity, and Capitalist Culture.

* Trying to figure out what percentage of instructors are adjuncts is the world’s most dangerous game.

But Thrun and other MOOC founders seem less than concerned about living up to their earlier, lofty rhetoric or continuing that tradition of bringing education to an underserved population. True, they haven’t entirely abandoned their rhetoric about equal access to educational opportunities. But they’ve shifted to what’s becoming a more familiar Silicon Valley narrative about the future of employability: a cheap and precarious labor force. That’s the unfortunate reality of “Uber for Education.”

* Artisanal college. Cruelty free, cage free, farm-fresh.

Aggrieved students find books dangerous; neoliberal administrators say they’re useless. I’d take the former any day.

From Corporate Leader to Flagship President?

Reform Higher Ed? Treat Badmin Like Bankers.

Literary magazines for socialists funded by the CIA, ranked.

* The strategic value of summer.

* Forty years of Born to Run. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

* Fun Home at Duke: 1, 2.

* Meanwhile, in today’s exciting new anti-academic moral panic: UNC’s The Literature of 9/11.

As Murray Pomerance points out, plagiarism is a form of theft, and we don’t steal our own work. On the contrary, we expand its reach, and build on it, thereby making it more relevant as the contexts that produce it change.

UT Knoxville encourages students to use ‘gender-neutral pronouns.’ Washington State University disavows syllabus with ban on certain words.

The Largest-Ever U.S. Gallery Of Jack Kirby’s Comic Art Heads To California.

* And no one talks about it: Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression—even if Hillary wins. More here. I’m an outlier on the progressive side of the fence insofar as I think Clinton might really have to pull out of the race over the emails — so it’s even worse than it seems.

* The cartoon bodies of Mad Max: Fury Road.

How Many Men Did The Golden Girls Sleep With, Exactly?

* The FBI’s surveillance of Ray Bradbury. And the Sad Puppies.

Cold Opening: The Publicity Campaign for Go Set a Watchman.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina serves as a reminder that resilience is a function of the strength of a community. Gentrification’s Ground Zero: In the ten years since Katrina, New Orleans has been remade into a neoliberal playground for young entrepreneurs. The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover.

* Incredible essay by Lili Loofbourrow on her sister’s death by suicide this summer.

* Psychology is bunk.

Žižek Says Thing.

* Against the Anthropocene.

* Whatever happened to DC Comics?

* Being Stephen Colbert.

* The free encyclopedia anyone can edit.

* Tinder as video game.

* Another Samuel Delany interview.

Janelle Monáe Vows To ‘Speak Up’ On #BlackLivesMatter.

* I love dumb stuff like this, when the corrupt screw up and lose: Business owners try to remove all voters from business district, but they forgot one college student.

Cancer cells programmed back to normal by US scientists.

British Library declines Taliban archive over terror law fears.

Upstate New York Secessionists Demand Freedom From City They Mooch Off Of.

* I told you that if there were something beyond the grave, I would contact you.

* RIP, Oliver Sacks.

* Inside Wisconsin’s Slender Man stabbing.

* I confess I am totally stunned by the Jared Fogle case. I thought I was cynical enough.

* The arc of history is long, but at least that Coach reboot has already been cancelled.

* The Racial Politics of Disney Animals.

* Mars by 2039?

* Renaming Denali.

* Why Dolphins Are Deep Thinkers.

Fall In Love with Your Job, Get Ripped Off by Your Boss. Related: workers shouldn’t work for free.

Firstborn Girls Are the Best at Life. Any Zoey could have told you that!

* The law, in its majestic equality, allows rich and poor alike not to clean up their billion-dollar toxic oil spills.

* The New Servility.

* Militarized drones are now legal in North Dakota.

Future Jails May Look and Function More Like Colleges. And, you know, vice versa…

* Never say “unfilmable”: The BBC is going to try to make a show out of The City and the City.

* Declare victory and go home to your panic room: America Has Lost The War Against Guns.

* And some things mankind was just never meant to know: See how easily a rat can wriggle up your toilet.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm

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Zygmunt Bauman and ‘The poor will always be with us’

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The real pessimism is quietism – not doing anything because nothing can be changed, argues Bauman: “Why do I write books? Why do I think? Why should I be passionate? Because things could be different, they could be made better. [My role] is to alert people to the dangers, to do something. ‘Don’t ever console yourself that you have done everything you could, because it’s not true,’ says the philosopher Levinas, who believed that you recognised a moral person as someone who does not think he or she is moral enough. That is also how we recognise a just society – a just society castigates itself that there is not enough justice in our society.”

I was quite taken this weekend with a chapter from Zygmunt Bauman, whom I’d never read before. Here are a few quick links to get your own Baumania started:

* ‘The way we define the poor is a reflection of the kind of society we live in, argues Zygmunt Bauman’

The sight of the poor (or at least the portrayal of poverty, for the poor themselves are increasingly swept out of sight, to the periphery of cities, to ghettos and estates) keeps the non-poor at bay and in step. It thereby perpetuates their life of uncertainty. It prompts them to tolerate or bear placidly the unstoppable ‘flexibilization’ of the world and the growing precariousness of their condition. The sight incarcerates their imagination and handcuffs their will. They do not dare to imagine a different world; they are much too chary to try and change the one they have.

* ‘Haunted house: the `work ethic’ was bad enough, says Zygmunt Bauman. But its ghost is even worse’

We have two worlds, at opposite poles, which are becoming increasingly out of touch with each other — much as the no-go areas of contemporary cities are carefully fenced off and bypassed by the traffic lines used for the mobility of well-off residents. The inhabitants of the First World, the relatively affluent and employed, live in a perpetual present. These people are constantly busy and always `short of time’. People marooned in the opposite world are crushed under the burden of abundant, redundant and useless time they can fill with nothing. In their time `nothing ever happens’. They do not `control `time — but neither are they controlled by it, unlike their clocking-in, clocking-out ancestors, subject to the faceless rhythm of factory time. They can only kill time, as they are slowly killed by it.

*’The self in a consumer society’

But you can tell one kind of society from another by the dimensions along which it stratifies its members, and, like all other societies, the postmodern, consumer society is a stratified one. Those “high up” and “low down” are plotted in a society of consumers along the lines of mobility—the freedom to choose where to be. Those “high up” travel through life to their hearts’ desire and pick and choose their destinations by the joys they offer. Those “low down” are thrown out from the site they would rather stay in, and if they do not move, it is the site that is pulled from under their feet. When they travel, their destination, more often than not, is of somebody else’s choosing and seldom enjoyable; and when they arrive, they occupy a highly unprepossessing site that they would gladly leave behind if they had anywhere else to go. But they don’t. They have nowhere else to go; there is nowhere else where they are likely to be welcomed.

* ‘Searching for politics in an uncertain world: Interview with Zygmunt Bauman’

Marx also explained why it is imperative for human survival to reform the capitalist way of running human affairs: that way passes no efficiency and morality tests. It is wasteful of natural and human resources and blind to the suffering it causes. Nothing has changed since Marx passed his verdict – though both the waste and the suffering have now acquired global proportions. Finally, Marx also suggested the reasons why running human affairs the capitalist way was both uneconomical and unethical. It was, he said, because our tools of action were by their capacity and their consequences social, while their management was private. We may say that today the wastefulness and immorality of the new world-wide capitalist disorder comes from the fact that our tools of action are by their capacity and their consequences global, but they are managed locally.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 30, 2007 at 4:00 am