Vargas Llosa’s The Civilization of Spectacle

I’m reading Vargas Llosa’s The Civilization of Spectacle and feeling very confused. The central idea of the text is that high culture has been banished to the margins and now only interests a tiny minority of the world’s population.

This is undoubtedly true. The problem I have with the text is that this has been true for as long as high culture existed. Vargas Llosa, however, insists that this is a new development. I don’t know what makes Llosa believe that a greater percentage of the population was interested in reading Ortega y Gasset a hundred years ago than will read Llosa’s essay today. And Ortega y Gasset bemoaned the same advent of the masses incapable of appreciating high culture.

I try to banish the thought that Llosa has passed the threshold to old age and has become a grumpy old man who believes that everything about the past was better than the present for the simple reason that the past coincided with his youth.

P.S. By the way, has anybody here read Vargas Llosa’s most recent novel El héroe discreto and can tell me if it’s worthwhile? It’s set in Peru, which is a great relief after Llosa’s tiresome attempts to write about Ireland, France, and God knows what else.

Monday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

President Obama would rather read any stupid hack in the world than anything written by a woman.

Rewriting the Bible to make it more palatable to people of a certain political persuasion. I’ll leave it to you to guess which persuasion that is.

Canada’s Supreme Court makes brothels legal.

A brilliant reading of Disney’s Frozen by an autistic.

Most people diagnosed with depression don’t even meet the diagnostic criteria. The doctors are in such a rush to foist a scrip on them that they don’t stop to consider the symptoms.

It is shocking that this completely idiotic piece on LinkedIn has been declared one of the best pieces of business journalism in 2013. These days, the way to get hits, likes, pageviews and awards is by declaring that everything sucks, any effort or activity is useless, and the best thing one can do is to avoid even trying to do anything. Except read defeatist, wallowing articles, of course.

How the cuts in SNAP benefits have impacted one teacher’s students. This is a very good post, do read it.

When it comes to weight, America and Neptune aren’t too far apart. Just being there adds a few pounds to your mass. For some, it’s more than just a few pounds. I was shocked when I was in an elderly home where someone seemed to need all the constant care just because he ate himself to the point where he was immobile and completely dependent. The whole country at its worst seems an over sized theme park with funny grocery store rides, comfortable double chairs, cool scooters in airports, and accommodated facilities for whoever has a boo-boo.

The demands for change must be en masse, just as the civil rights movement was. So how tired are we of gun violence?  Fed up enough to force our leaders to get off their duffs and make the changes the public demands? This may be a long, long struggle.” This is absolutely true. We need a very strong and massive public determination to change the situation.

Why do some academics run out of breath? The post is about STEM fields but I find it relevant to the Humanities, as well.

Google+ is creating confusion and tries to mess up people’s blogs. I hate Google+ and hope never to have to join it.

I always get asked, “Where do you get your confidence?” I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, “You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?”The real mystery is how anybody can confuse this sad creature with a confident person.

What I find so amazing is that Canada Post can get away with bold face lying to the media and that the media actually prints their lies without investigating them at all. Back in the day the media could be sued for printing something that is untrue. Not now. Now corporations control the media with advertizing dollars.” Very true.

And another important post on why the impending demise of Canada Post is a very very bad sign.

Teens [from the suburbs] were much more anxious and depressed than teens from inner-city neighborhoods who were faced with all manner of environmental and social ills. The privileged suburban teens smoked more, drank more, and used more hard drugs than inner-city teens…”

On corporate Communism: “This is Harper’s Communism. Paying lip service to small business but abandoning small business in favor of large corporations. Getting rid of the Wheat Bord was to help muscle out the small private farmer and aid the large corporate monopolies. Gwyn Morgan and Stephen Harper like to do a lot of name calling, trash talking and pointing the finger but the truth is, they are the Leninists not the people who pay taxes, care about the environment, support individual rights and freedoms and oppose trade agreements that erode national sovereignty. Throwing away the Bill of Rights is the final step.” I know there are many posts on Canada in this lineup but Canada is turning in a very bad direction these days. We need to be paying attention and not allow the traditional winter somnolence get the best of our Northern neighbors.

The best line to have come out of the wholeLet’s racially profile Santa and Jesus” campaign was this: “Of course, worrying about what color Jesus was is sort of, like, missing the whole point of Jesus. Just sayin’.”

Do check out this absolutely hilarious curriculum used by homeschoolers. It’s extremely funny right to the point when you realize that this is what some poor kids get in lieu of an education. 

Muslim staff working for Marks & Spencer have been given permission to refuse to serve customers buying alcohol or pork products.” And tomorrow religious fanatics will be allowed not to sell birth control or offer medical assistance to people of whose religion or behavior they disapprove. Welcome back to the Dark Ages, UK!

It is very important that we all join in shaming universities that engage in horrible and abusive hiring practices. Please read this post on egregious behavior of UC Riverside.

Rebecca Schuman is surprised that the Tenured Radical is bullying her. I’m not surprised, though, because the memory of TR getting on my case over absolutely nothing important is still fresh in my mind.

And the post of the week: “The Kansas Board of Regents. . . recently voted, unanimously, to deny every single employee of a Kansas university the right to blog, Facebook or Tweet under their real name.” If you are not appalled, then I don’t know what’s ailing you. ANY faculty member can be fired for posting, blogging or tweeting something that a brainless bureaucrat happens to disagree with. Got it? Bye-bye, academic freedom, bye-bye, intelligent blogging, bye-bye, freedom of speech.