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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “May 4, 2017”

How Can You Lose to This?

The more I hear about today’s legislative triumph, the more I ask myself, “And these are the people Democrats keep losing to? What’s wrong with them?”

If even this can’t be turned into a resounding electoral triumph for Democrats in 2018, then nothing will help them. 

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Schadenfreude

The religious folks are apoplectic because Trump issued an order that gives them nothing of what they hoped for but allows them to raise money for his future campaigns. 

In your face, suckers. 

“Ratcheted-up Expectations of Modern Motherhood”

I’m very happy that my “fragile personal victories” will not “be upended by the ratcheted-up expectations of modern motherhood” because I have no idea what these expectations are. Thankfully, the hospital where I gave birth to Klara forgot to provide me with the list, and I can continue existing in happy cluelessness. On the negative side, I have lost yet another opportunity to feel deliciously sorry for myself as I fail to meet any of these imaginary expectations.

God, why don’t people go do something instead of coming up with this sorry crap.

Book Notes: Jennifer Kitses Small Hours 

Finally I found an American novel of the crisis. By crisis I, of course, mean not the 2008 Recession but the transformations in the global economy and the nation-state model that American writers have been studiously ignoring. (I get a list of all new novels published in the US and I read it faithfully for signs of anything even vaguely related to the crisis. There’s been nothing until now.)

The protagonists of Kitses’ Small Hours are a struggling middle-aged couple with small children that is stuck between the growing lumpen class and the highly mobile, prosperous elite. They longingly gaze at the opulent lives of the latter while realizing they are about to slip down towards the former. They try to imitate the fluid lifestyle of the mobile elites but this only compromises them further.

Kitses should be commended for at least trying to write about something other than boozy rich brats with complicated sex lives or escapist fantasies about heroic individuals, which are obsessive topics for the rest of American writers today. 

The novel ends up being just half an inch above mediocre. Kitses tries too hard to cram every marker of the changing times into the novel, creating a sensation that she is ticking off boxes rather than writing. There is also a frustrating attempt to fashion a happy ending that sounds cheesy and contrived. 

The novel’s promise lies in what is clearly its unintended yet still valuable humor. The protagonists of the novel are constantly exhausted. They complain about their enormous workloads and fear losing their precarious employment. The only thing they don’t do, however, is actually work. What the novel portrays is not simply a lack of a work ethic, it’s a veritable war on work. There is a glimmer of an interesting insight here but the author leaves it to us to pursue it. 

Small Hours is not a great work of literature but at least it’s not escapist, which is a great achievement these days. 

Neoliberal Identity 

The goal of neoliberal ideology is to get people to accept “free market” principles as common sense. It seeks to destroy all forms of human solidarity in order to erect the identity of a sovereign, free-floating consumer as the only desirable and even possible one.

The fashionable slogan of “biological sex and race don’t exist” serves this very purpose.   

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