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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 “September 10, 2017”

Unconvincing Dysfunction

N and I are watching the series we nicknamed “And You Call This Problems?” In the original version it’s titled Bloodline. It’s about a family of people who want to feel tortured but can’t come up with anything to feel tortured about.

Somebody totally needs to make a series about a family of post-Soviet immigrants. There will be drama, cheating, abuse, exploitation and outlandish behavior to fill a dozen riveting series. 

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Still Worried

The blog readership has dropped off a cliff since Friday. It’s like 80% of my readers are in Florida.

It’s still not clear how bad the surge will be and how deep the damage. But the evacuation seems to have been impressive.

Book Notes: Javier Cercas’ Monarch of the Shadows

It seems like everybody who has a distant relative killed in the Spanish Civil War is busy digging him out – metaphorically and sometimes literally – and writing a novel about him. Cercas is a known opportunist, so how could he miss a chance to cash in on an uncle who’d died in the war at the age of 19?

The novel about the dead uncle ended up boring as dust, of course. Is there anybody who can’t find an ancestor killed in some war? Maybe even a more interesting than this one? Men – and some especially dumb women – die in wars, it’s nothing new. You can’t milk the subject in perpetuity because it’s not that special.

So Cercas found a way to spice up the novel. He has a friend, a well-known film director, whose wife dumped him for Viggo Mortensen. The wife has made every effort to keep her relationship with the star private. In the 5 years she’s lived with Mortensen, she maybe appeared in public 2 or 3 times with him. The public is understandably desperate for dirt on the whole thing. 

In the novel, Cercas inserts a few juicy bits of gossip about the film director, the wife (who’s a fairly known actress in Spain), and Mortensen. I wonder how the director reacted to Cercas spilling his private drama all over the dang novel. He seems to be spineless enough to just swallow it in silence. The wife must be livid, though. 

Of course, every review of the novel quoted the gossip and mentioned nothing else about it. Because there is nothing else. I don’t watch movies so I don’t give a crap about the gossip but the novel itself is just not good. The genre of the Spanish Civil War seems to have fizzled out.

A Risky Play

Of course, what I’m suggesting is risky. Dump the fanatical wing that scares everybody away with its privilege rants, safe spaces, 24-hour-a-day apoplexy, shock doctrines, identity lists, and Russia conspiracies. And instead make a play for people who might or might not respond. 

It’s risky because the crazies are always reliably there. But they don’t exist in numbers that are great enough to win anything. I’d risk it but I saw Bernie meekly step aside when two self-involved cows on his stage hassled him and realized that it wasn’t going to happen.

If everything goes right, I hope to vote in the next election. Right now, it seems like the only way for me to do it is to repeat like a mantra, “The other guys stink even worse, even worse, even worse.” And if you can’t energize even somebody as excitable as me, something is very wrong. 

Weltanschauung

This is why the Left keeps losing:

Fear has become a defining characteristic of life in America since September 11, interrupted by the brief glimmers of hope declared by Shepard Fairey’s posters and Barack Obama’s inauguration.

If I ask my students whether this rings true for them, they’ll just think I’m crazy. 

All of this alarmism that’s so popular on the left, all of the “we’re back to feudal times! Half of the country is starving! The younger generation is hopeless! The American dream is dead! There are no opportunities! Meritocracy is a joke!” are completely at odds with the Weltanschauung of the majority. And most damningly, it’s in discord with how the young feel. I don’t mean the rich spoiled young on private yachts and at Berkeley but the normal young, the majority.

I spend a lot of time with young people. They either don’t vote at all or vote Republican because they are repelled by moaning and negativity. Every poll shows that the young share the basic ideology of the Left, that they are into justice, fairness, social conscience. Yet the Left loses every election in sight because not enough people come out to vote. 

It’s the framing that stinks, the delivery, the general mood surrounding good, valuable ideas. I don’t know what to do to get people to stop, to get their heads out of their asses and stop saying embarrassing stuff like the quote above. 

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