Short Random Musings About Christina Hoff Sommers

Why would anybody want to talk to Christina Hoff Sommers about anything? Moreover, why would a feminist blogger want to do that? Even more than that, why would anybody refer to her as a “scholar”? I mean, I understand the value of a debate but you need at least a marginally rational opponent to engage in a dialogue. And rational Sommers is not.

I’ve read two books by this person (this one and this one), from start to finish, so I’m not judging her based on rumors. When I was reading the books, the question that was foremost on my mind was, “How come this person is not being taken care of in a mental institution and is allowed to roam free?” I’d be scared to be in one room with her because people who suffer from such intense delusions are unpredictable.


Assange Sells Himself to Russia

Oh, I enjoy saying I told you so. Did I say that Assange was a money-hungry hacker and not a brave freedom fighter as everybody wanted to imagine him, or what?

So what does our James Bond of the New Millenium who, as we all recognize provided absolutely no new information to anybody and still got super famous for his fake rebelliousness, do now? Surprise, surprise! Our undefeated freedom lover has now sold himself to Russia, that paradise of freedom and free expression. Yippee. Now he will finally be able to tell the world whatever Putin wants the world to know:

It’s the television channel that has given voice to a thousand anti-western conspiracy theories, while avoiding criticism of the hand that feeds it. Now state-run Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda arm, has forged an unlikely partnership – with the self-proclaimed defender of truth and freedom Julian Assange.

One day after the WikiLeaks founder said he was launching a 10-part series of interviews with “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries”, Russia Today announced it had won exclusive first broadcast rights for the show, titled The World Tomorrow, and was due to begin airing the show in March.

“Our viewers are open to the discussions that will be presented through Julian’s show on our channel,” the channel’s editor-in-chief, Kremlin loyalist Margarita Simonyan, said in a statement. That may well be true, unless the guest comes from Russia. The channel, launched in December 2005 as part of a government campaign to boost Russia’s lagging global influence, remains slavishly pro-Kremlin, revelling in the antics of Vladimir Putin and avoiding sensitive topics, such as the prime minister’s rumoured wealth and his growing authoritarianism.

Will people agree now that I was right when I said that this guy cares about nothing but making a quick buck while selling himself to the highest bidder? That’s what people who believe in the truth do nowadays. They sell themselves to Putin’s propaganda machine, right?

I told you so, I told you so, I told you so.

The Terror of Fantasy Fiction

Readers say that they find my fear of fantasy genre to be curious, so I will dedicate a separate post to it with the hope of analyzing why I dread the genre so much.

There is a number of genres that I can’t stand. Harlequin romance, for example. Or sci-fi. Still, I can read them if I have to. As for the fantasy literature, however, I’d rather read a phone book than a fantasy novel.

One reason is that, in my opinion, the founder of the genre (Tolkien) already did all that could be done with it. The guy was an obvious genius, so everything coming after him is likely to be inferior.

I also don’t really see the point of fantasy. The entire genre is a huge cop-out, in my opinion. If you have no idea how to resolve a plot line or explain something that is happening, just stick some Little People (this is a reference to Murakami’s 1Q84), and there is no need to resolve and explain. It’s the Little People, you know. They are magical and can do whatever they please.

You know these mysteries by Agatha Christie where supernatural or magical things seem to be happening? The best moment in these novels is when you realize that there is a perfectly rational, real explanation to what took place. It’s one thing to figure out who the murderer is within a small group of people locked in a library. It would be a complete let-down, though, if Poirot announced at the end, “The murder was committed by magical creatures who came through the chimney!”

I understand that fantasy novels have some sort of an internal logic at least some of the time. What is the payout to figuring this logic out, though? Even if it exists, it will be completely different for other novels by other writers.

This, of course, is not meant as a criticism of people who read this kind of books and enjoy them. I’m just sharing my feelings about fantasy in hopes of starting a discussion.

As Borges said, though, nobody knows what God’s literary preferences are.

I’m Pleasant

The barista who always serves me coffee at our campus coffee-shop says:

“I’ve been meaning to tell you: you are always SO pleasant. Thank you for being that way.”

You see, people? I’m only a scary ogre online. In RL I’m actually pleasant.

This, by the way, is part of Canadian identity. It’s considered a horrible faux pas to be rude to people in the service industry. In my own culture, the way to go is to be super rude to everybody. Which makes me that much eager to shed my identity in favor of the Canadian.

What’s Socialism?

As a person who grew up in the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, I am always puzzled by the way that the word “socialism” is used in North America. Time and again, I hear, for example, that Canada is “Socialist.” I thought that maybe there is a different meaning to this word but I just can’t find the definition of “socialism” that North Americans rely on when they say that Obama, for instance, is a Socialist.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Socialism:

Socialism  is an economic system characterized by social ownership or control of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy, and a political philosophy advocating such a system. “Social ownership” may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises, common ownership, direct public ownership or autonomous state enterprises.

This is precisely the definition that I am familiar with and use. Social control of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy. None of this even remotely exists in Canada and / or is advocated by President Obama. So I’m guessing that there must be some radically different definition that people use.

I’m genuinely confused, folks. Does socialism in North America stand for something like “advocating strong welfare programs and a strong social safety net”? If so, then what do you call actual socialism?

Seinfeld Chain

Jonathan never ceases to come up with inventive ways to inspire his fellow academics. Here is the strategy he has adopted now to motivate himself to write more:

I’ve decided to go back to one of my best and most ruthless techniques, the Seinfeld Chain, in which I write on the calendar every day the number of consecutive days I have been writing. I am just going to write every day, with no more excuses. Already, on the second day, I had an extraordinarily productive session.

Here is more on the Seinfeld Chain.

I have decided to start my own Seinfeld Chain. I want to make it as long as I can and, as Jonathan says, “None of this “I can’t write on days I’m teaching crap”.” This is my favorite crappy excuse ever and I have not been able to defeat it a single time.

Jonathan also says, “I will give myself a break if and when I feel I have earned it.” This is very impressive given that he is the leading authority on the poet Garcia Lorca and has published several great books. In the meanwhile, some academics I know (pointing an accusatory finger at myself) feel mortally tired and in need of long stretches of rest after writing for one day. Shame on Clarissa! Bad, lazy Clarissa! Clarissa in the doghouse! (I respond well to negative motivation, hence the invective.)

Every single piece of academic advice that I have gleaned from Jonathan’s blog so far has been really helpful to me. I have started writing a lot better and have gotten my articles accepted at good journals at a rate that I didn’t even think possible before. This is why I will now start my Seinfeld Chain and promise to update you, folks, on how it goes. Two hours of writing every day, for as long as I can do it.

If you are an academic who just can’t get published (or can’t get published enough), do yourself a favor and read Stupid Motivational Tricks. The tricks really work.

Why Did People Ridicule Bush?

I’m especially appalled at the disingeniousness of people who claim that since college profs used to ridicule Bush’s way of speaking and don’t ridicule Obama’s, this must mean they aim to indoctrinate students in their Liberal ideology.

People who make this silly claim pretend to forget that the reason why the entire world laughed at Bush was that he couldn’t string two sentences along without making some egregiously funny error of grammar or vocabulary. College profs dislike it when people can’t express themselves in their only language. This has nothing to do with anybody’s political agenda. If Obama made the same kind of mistakes in his speeches, everybody would ridicule him, too. He doesn’t, though.

Those who like to find some huge Liberal conspiracy behind every corner would be better served to remember that, sometimes, the simplest explanation is the correct one. It is possible that people made fun of Bush because the way he spoke was funny.

Just think about this logically, folks. It wasn’t Bush’s appearance, family, voice, hair, clothes, etc. that were ridiculed, right? It was very specifically his endless blunders that people made fun of. So maybe if he made no blunders when he spoke, nobody would ridicule him, eh? Does that compute at all? Remember Bush, Sr.? He was also very conservative, wasn’t he? But did he make anybody laugh? Were there calendars and books of his funny verbal gaffes sold on every marketplace in the world?

Maybe people simply laugh when something is funny and not when they need to advance some non-existent Liberal conspiracy.

Reading and Watching

When I read, I always see the characters in my mind as if on a screen. They become so vivid (if the work of literature is any good, of course) that I often decide that I must have seen a film version of the novel. I then keep looking for this film version, only to realize that it doesn’t exist and that all of the images of the characters and their surroundings come from my own imagination.

This is why I don’t like movies. They strive to tell me everything: how the characters looked, what they wore, what their every facial expression was like, etc. They even choose the angle of vision for me. Not only do they render me motionless and speechless, they also rob me of the need to imagine anything. It’s all right there, all spelled out for me in painstaking detail.

Spending just two hours at the movies terrifies me. What if the lights never go on and I will be stuck there, consuming one story after another in my role of a perennially passive observer? What if the surround sound noise never allows me to formulate a single thought of my own?

Lenin really knew what he was talking about when he denounced people who read books and declared that the main form of art for his regime would be cinema. And the circus.

The Greatest Mistake a Writer Can Make . . .

. . . is not writing consistently. Once you lose the habit of writing on a daily basis, it is extremely hard to get back into it. I stopped writing while I was assembling my midpoint dossier and doing research for the new article. As a result, I now have to struggle with every sentence. The good habit of writing for two hours first thing in the morning is gone. I feel like an addict who has jumped off the wagon and now doesn’t even remember what the motivation was behind doing it.

A writer who isn’t writing every day – and I mean every day – is doing herself a huge disservice.