The Brilliant, Transcendent Clarity of Chauncey DeVega Applying Cone, Baudrillard, Adorno, Gordon and Postman in his Nuanced Argument about the “Kanye West.”

[The eclipse of serious journalism by punchy soundbites and outraged tweets, and the polarized, standardized reflection of opinion into forms of humor and theatricalized outrage within narrow niche-markets makes the category of individual thought increasingly unreal. This is true on the left as well as the right, and it is especially noteworthy once we countenance what passes for political discourses today. … The new media forms have devolved into entertainment, and instead of critical discourse we see the spectacle of a commentariat, across the ideological spectrum, that prefers outrage over complexity and dismisses dialectical uncertainty for the narcissistic affirmation of self-consistent ideologies each of which is parceled out to its own private cable network.

I am reminded of a lecture I attended some years ago where the late James Cone, an intellectual titan and the father of black liberation theology, observed that some of the most difficult students to teach on questions of the color line were those who happened not to be white. Why? Because black and brown students often believe that because they were born into a certain body at a certain point in time, they have special knowledge and wisdom that makes it unnecessary for them to engage in serious study of the color line….

We see this in an America which in many ways has lost the ability to determine what is “true” and what is “fake,” and where lies are now labeled as mere “untruths” or “disagreements.” As with Trump, Kanye West is the human distillation of America’s social pathologies of greed, narcissism and a celebrity-driven culture of distraction and emptiness. Hyperreality is the state of being where these social pathologies exist, and through which they are mediated.

Ultimately, Kanye West is just one more character caught up in the orbit of the human black hole Donald Trump, in a malignant reality where the absurd is now the quotidian….]

Full article here: I love Kanye West | Chancey DeVega for SALON

 

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How Morality Changes in a Foreign Language

[Why does it matter whether we judge morality in our native language or a foreign one? According to one explanation, such judgments involve two separate and competing modes of thinking—one of these, a quick, gut-level “feeling,” and the other, careful deliberation about the greatest good for the greatest number. When we use a foreign language, we unconsciously sink into the more deliberate mode simply because the effort of operating in our non-native language cues our cognitive system to prepare for strenuous activity. This may seem paradoxical, but is in line with findings that reading math problems in a hard-to-read font makes people less likely to make careless mistakes.]

Read the full story | Scientific American

 

As it’s Getting Really Cold and Lonely…

“As for me,” Twain wrote at the age of seventy-three, “I collect pets: young girls—girls from ten to sixteen years old; girls who are pretty and sweet and naive and innocent—dear young creatures to whom life is a perfect joy and to whom it has brought no wounds, no bitterness, and few tears.”

Mark Twain’s Disturbing Passion for Collecting Young Girls | The Paris Review

[The quintessential adolescent of the time, who leapt gloriously onto the London stage in 1904 and Broadway in 1905, was Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. Like Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Peter flew to uncharted territory rather than submit to becoming civilized by his family.

Mark Twain praised the play with his customary enthusiasm, gushing that

all the implacable rules of the drama are violated, yet the result is a play which is without a defect … It is a fairy play. There isn’t a thing in it which could ever happen in real life. That is as it should be. It is consistently beautiful, sweet, clean, fascinating, satisfying, charming, and impossible from beginning to end. It breaks all the rules of real life drama, but preserves intact all the rules of fairyland, and the result is altogether contenting to the spirit.

“The longing of my heart,” the seventy-year-old Twain added, “is a fairy portrait of myself: I want to be pretty; I want to eliminate facts and fill up the gap with charms.” Twain saw in Peter the adolescent he so fervently wished to be, eternally.]

This is the Question

What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men? | the PARIS REVIEW

Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, William Burroughs, Richard Wagner, Sid Vicious, V.S. Naipaul, John Galliano, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Caravaggio, Floyd Mayweather, though if we start listing athletes we’ll never stop. And what about the women? The list immediately becomes much more difficult and tentative: Anne Sexton? Joan Crawford? Sylvia Plath? Does self-harm count? Okay, well, it’s back to the men I guess: Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Lead Belly, Miles Davis, Phil Spector.

Still from Woody Allen’s Manhattan

 

Reckoning with What is Owed — and What Can Never be Repaid — for Racial Privilege

Nietzsche’s “guilt”, whiteness, and what the real cost is to live in the land of another | Oh, and the difference between freedom and liberty

[I once feared buying a house because I didn’t want to be owned. I had saved money with no purpose in mind other than the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Now I’m bound to this house, though I’m still free to lose it if I choose. But that isn’t the version of freedom that interests me at the moment. I’m more compelled by a freedom that would allow me to deserve what I have. Call it liberation, maybe. If debt can be repaid incrementally, resulting eventually in ownership, perhaps so can guilt.

What is the condition of white life? We are moral debtors who act as material creditors. Our banks make bad loans. Our police, like Nietzsche’s creditors, act out their power on black bodies. And, as I see in my own language, we confuse whiteness with ownership.]

 

In Regards to the Refugee Crisis, Inaccuracies and Lazy Metonyms Simply Will Not Do

Hit and Run Blog | Reason Magazine | by Ed Krayewski | Sep. 8, 2016 3:55 pm

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson finally got his viral moment. Unfortunately for him, it was a gaffe. Asked on Morning Joe what he would, if he were elected, “about Aleppo,” Johnson asked what “an Aleppo” was. The interviewer explained that Aleppo was the “epicenter of the refugee crisis.”

Not quite.

Had the interviewer, Mike Barnicle, called Aleppo the “epicenter of the Syrian refugee crisis,” he would be less incorrect, but still incorrect. Aleppo may have since the start of the Syrian civil war become the most well-known Syrian city in the U.S. outside of the Syrian capital of Damascus (The New York Times, in reporting on Johnson’s flub, even incorrectly identified Aleppo as the capital of Syria) and may be the site of some of the most intense fighting, but the crisis in Syria involves the entire country. Aleppo is a major city which has seen fighting between government forces and various anti-government forces ranging from the so-called moderate and U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army to the Islamic State (ISIS). But ISIS controls large swaths of Syrian territory and government forces are engaged in fights around the country.

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Credit: The New York Times

Because of the prominence of the Syrian civil war in international news, Syrian refugees are the most identifiable refugees today. But the refugee crisis is not fueled exclusively, or even primarily, by Syrian refugees. For example, in 2015, while more refugees in Europe came from Syria than anywhere else, they made up less than half of the refugee total. The second and third most common place of origin for refugees in Europe applying for asylum for the first time in 2015 were Afghanistan and Iraq. That fact suggests the reason why so many Western observers, and especially American “thought leaders”, prefer to talk about a Syrian refugee crisis than a wider regional refugee crisis—U.S. involvement in Syria, such as it is, is far less obvious and intense than U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq was and continues to be.

Before President Obama committed in the last year to accepting 10,000 of the 4 million refugees produced by the Syrian conflict, the U.S. spent the first several years of the Syrian civil war accepting virtually no refugees from Syria out of the about 60,000 to 80,000 or so refugees accepted into the U.S. each year. In fiscal year 2014, for example, the U.S. accepted 105 Syrian refugees, and in fiscal year 2015, the first year in which Syrian refugees became a prominent enough issue on the political stage to yield some kind of action, 1,682. Neither did the general flow of refugees become a contentious issue until the last year. The U.S. has been accepting tens of thousands of Muslim refugees, largely from countries in which U.S. intervention has helped create an environment where terrorism thrives. In fiscal year 2015, the U.S. accepted 12,676 refugees from Iraq, and 8,858 from Somalia. The only country from which more refugees came was Burma.

It’s more convenient for the foreign policy establishment and its apologists to talk about the Syrian refugee crisis, because it’s easier to imply (however incorrectly) that it is the result of U.S. inaction. The large numbers of refugees from countries the U.S. has helped destabilize make those kinds of implications, and the case in favor of even more U.S. intervention, harder to make.

Link to the article

“Neutrality” as Collaboration | For Journalists (and not only) Covering Trump, a Murrow Moment

[AS EDWARD R. MURROW wrapped up his now-famous special report condemning Joseph McCarthy in 1954, he looked into the camera and said words that could apply today. “He didn’t create this situation of fear—he merely exploited it, and rather successfully,” Murrow said of McCarthy. Most of Murrow’s argument relied on McCarthy’s own words, but in the end Murrow shed his journalistic detachment to offer a prescription: “This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent—or for those who approve,” he said. “We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

We’ve reached a turning point, and the two criteria for journalists to abandon their objectivity have come to pass: Trump is widely criticized, even by his own party, giving journalists a lot of company in their criticism of him. When Trump suggested that Judge Curiel was incapable of trying a case because of his parents’ birthplace, even House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, called the comments “racist.”

And Trump’s views appear increasingly deviant. No respected journalist would seek a balancing quote from someone who held such a view about a judge or who suggested, as Trump did last month after the Orlando shootings, that a sitting president was in cahoots with a mass murderer.

Murrow felt compelled to end his broadcast by warning his audienceabout the dangers of staying neutral, as journalists too often do, when the stakes are high: “Cassius was right,” said Murrow. “‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’” If a politician’s rhetoric is dangerous, Murrow implied, all of us, including journalists, are complicit if we don’t stand up and oppose it.]

Read the full article | Columbia Journalism Review