Was just over reading at Feministe. I do stuff like that sometimes. It reinforces my opinion that a certain portion of feminism has become a caricature of itself—which is sad not only because of the necessity of a continued and strong feminist movement for women (say, my daughter and her future life) but also because feminism is currently the only hope that men have for a certain freedom from patriarchy as well.
I don’t claim to be any different.
But it is what it is. Feminism has gone off the rails in many camps in the same way that everything involving actual living, breathing human beings does.
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Along these lines, despite the opinions of very many of The Very Smart People, I remain more or less of the opinion that Horkheimer and Adorno had it right.
Despite claims to the contrary, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen much of anything resembling critical thinking (even of the folk-criticism or criticism-just-in-any-actual-practical-case variety) in the wild. When Public Member X appears to be critical of Public Member Y, it is more often than not just a matter of differing ideological manipulation. Society is, after all, a complex and very large system.
There is room for an egg crate (or, say, a blizzard) of Goebbels-would-be figures. And they’re out there. And they are responsible for the bulk of “critical thinking,” which makes it—in the end—not so very critical after all.
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In fact, my considered personal opinion after decades in life and (actually) over a decade in the social sciences is that, by and large, publics are intellectually and reasonably unredeemable. They just aren’t that bright. They are easily manipulated; the only question is which faction will manipulate them, and in what demographic breakdowns.
Power is power, and power dominates, and power is reserved for a few. That is not a moral pronouncement, but rather, a realist one. And beneath power, or after it, depending on how you want to phrase things, is nothing beyond the ineffable: personality, contingency, history, noise and (as a famous Russian novelist once suggested) a bit of bad dinner.
Life is much simpler than so many very smart people make it out to be:
You are born. There is some shit and a few chances to seize fragments of happiness (that the very smart people will spend time trying to divide into “false” and “true” happiness). Then, you die—and the world spins as it always has.
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On the feminism front, it never ceases to amaze me how anti-feminist some camps in feminism are—very often, personal experience says, those that are most stridently and progressively and theoreticallyf feminist.
Listen, so long as we implicitly assume that a man’s place is in the office, or sneer at the notion of a man being caring and responsible enough to take care of his children, a woman’s place will remain in the kitchen.
I’ll never get used to critiques of gender essentialism that in the meantime essentialize the “man” gender to be precisely the patriarchal norm, and that subsequently critique “men” on those very grounds.
The hypocrisy is astounding—and the blindness is ever so Dialectic of Enlightenment.
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Or, as they say on Daily Kos, “Pie.”
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I’ll post on my dissilusionment with the academy and with the intelligentsia some other day. Ugh.
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More and more I am of the opinion that it’s all silliness.
More than half of my life is gone. What is it with all of this pedantry and in-club nonsense? The people who most believe Bourdieu have done their best to emulate his account of things. This speaks in an indirect way to the larger problem of a “social science” in the first place, one that ought to be finally and authoritatively articulated but has not yet, to date, so been.
I don’t know, however, that I’m the person to do it.
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The Beatles got it right without even trying:
“It’s a fool that plays it cool by making his life a little colder.”
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Once upon a time, I was convinced that my future work would have something to do with mortality and the portions of the cultural terrain that surround it (or its obfuscation).
Right now, tonight, I’m more convinced of this than ever.
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To the Feministe posters and commenters, and to the bulk of the people I’ve met in the academy:
You’ll soon be dead.
Shortly afterward, you’ll be forgotten.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re ready to die, or whether your life will be meaningful in retrospect.
The question I want to ask is:
Are you deeply pleased and fulfilled right now by the one shot you’re getting?
If not, are you working toward these things, or toward something entirely different, once you’ve had a good, hard think? And if you reject the question or critique it, your parents are turning over in their graves at the utter waste that your life—and all of their hard effort—has become.
Pull your head out of your ass.
Find some generosity and exemplify it. Because you don’t have it.
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It’s no accident that Buddhism and Taoism continue to gain in the West. And I’m proud to say that (1) I didn’t need hard data to tell me this, and (2) I checked hard data nonetheless.
Acceptance, gratitude, and the ability to simply be are sorely lacking amongst the Euro(colonialorregularwhitebread)trash demographic. May you all eventually be able to ditch your Coach bags and paradoxically parallel feminist pretensions.