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Clarissa's Blog

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

Evildoers

Who’s the evildoer who taught my daughter to say “night-night”? She never spent a night away from us, and I’ve avoided this grating affectation completely.

But when she grabs her doll and heads for her room with the words “night-night”, the last thing I want is to open a debate.

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Copyright

The very idea that you can copyright certain subjects of discussion or artistic expression is deeply neoliberal. The belief that you can “appropriate” experience stems from seeing everything as property and wanting to appoint owners who’ll limit access to it. 

It’s curious how many concepts that are considered to be super-duper progressive – choice, cultural appropriation, intersectionality, identity – are profoundly neoliberal. The progressive dogma that the desiring individual can never be questioned or scrutinized, what is it but the glorification of consumerism?

Outsiders

The argument that “you don’t live here, so you don’t understand the situation and don’t get to opine” is quite outlandish in the 21st century. Everybody is exposed to the same information flows, and being immersed in a situation often makes it harder, not easier, to understand it. 

Friday Link Encyclopedia

If the paper were a frozen tundra and your life depended on finding a “the” to ingest, you’d be dead by page two.” I love how this scholar writes. And I can commiserate because English speakers who write in Spanish always forget that abstract concepts need a definite article. (It’s “the love, the justice and the peace” in Spanish.)

Neoliberal destruction of politics is illustrated perfectly in one short post. It’s like people have been completely emptied of all content. 

People have the weirdest sexual fantasies
can’t avoid being touched by this passionate dedication to Hillary. The whole thing is almost poetic. 

Finally, a good, non-hysterical post on Columbus Day

tragic death of a young mother is caused by outlandish ignorance.

Wine-infused coffee exists. And isn’t that sad. 

A great post on the Democrats’ strategy

Yes, self-driving cars are totally about to happen. Any day now. 

I don’t need to look at the author’s name to know this was written by a man: “My theory is that airport travel takes years off of people’s lives.  Our U.S. airline system is so overloaded, so overcapacity, and so brittle that airplane travel is by now normatively terrible.  Take a flight in the U.S. and you can almost count on being delayed and stressed out.  Who needs it?  A better plan may be just to stay home.” 

ACA Developments

The worst part is that Trump is 100% right when he says that ACA was a gift from the US taxpayers to insurance companies. Not that he’s going to repair the situation and give anything better to the taxpayers. But it’s undeniable that ACA was definitely all that. Yes, it made life better for many people, and that’s good. But it was deeply flawed, and we all know what the flaw was. 

On Iran

In other news, Netanyahu is slobbering all over Trump’s new outburst (I can’t in all honesty call it a position) on Iran. Anything that makes Netanyahu this happy has to be exceptionally bad. I mean, I knew it was bad but I only realized to which extent when I saw Bibi’s joy over it.

The Rich Also Cry, Season 2

Not to be outdone by rich male entertainers, rich female entertainers are participating in “The Rich Also Cry” spectacle aimed at give the audience a warm and fuzzy feeling of being in the position to pity Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. 

We’ve done sports, we’ve done movies. What’s next? Melanka Trump will weep on screen and we’ll all go crazy with compassion?

I think nobody but billionaires should ever run for president. The voters don’t seem capable of responding to anybody but the megarich.

The Plagiarism Scandal Continues

Somebody on my FB is ranting in defense of the plagiarizing poet I mentioned over the weekend. First of all, she didn’t plagiarize, he says. And even if she did, it was by accident. And even if it wasn’t, she’s a good person, which is what matters. And anyway, there are greater tragedies in the world. 

What makes the situation even more delightful, this same fellow recently posted a long screed condemning Columbus for not anticipating, back in the XVth century, the moral code of the XXIst and not living up to it. 

Of course, it’s easy to pass judgement when it doesn’t obligate you to do anything. As an acquaintance says, “I love fishing because fish don’t talk back.” Columbus doesn’t talk back, so it’s a pleasure to take him to task.

My FB friend is not the only one. A bunch of writers published a letter in support of the plagiarist. Because she didn’t do it, and even if she did, etc, etc. 

Reading Peeves

I prefer to read Spanish-language books on history and history of literature because there are none of the triumphalist, self-aggrandizing and moralistic pseudo-revelations about how the “evil West despoiled the rest” that comprise up to 80% of the English-language books of this kind. Of course, the manuals in question have to be published in Spanish-speaking countries. The moment an author moves here, s\he begins to parrot these boring narratives in the most subservient ways ever because nothing else pays.  

By God, I’ve been reading a new textbook on the early Middle Ages, and it’s all written in the Melissa-McEwanish jargon of the 21st-century American narcissism. It’s ridiculous that a person who is simply trying to learn about the 7th century should be subjected to page after page of these inane and idiotic proclamations about the decided inferiority of the Western culture to a vague everything else.

And it’s not just one book. These demonstrations of narcissistic woundedness are everywhere. 

Neoliberal Infants

What drives me nuts is that whenever the issue of people being hounded on campus arises, all everybody wants to discuss is whether they agree with that person’s ideas. Or, which is more likely, with somebody’s clumsy retelling of a retelling of those ideas. It’s like that old Soviet joke where a fellow says, “Gosh, that Pavarotti guy can’t sing worth a damn. He’s horrible. Rabinowitz sang me a couple of Pavarotti’s tunes and they stank.”

A university should be a place for a free exchange of ideas. Not “ideas I like and approve.” Just ideas. All of them. 

As I keep saying, there need to be at least a couple of general principles that guide your actions. But people have been so colonized by neoliberalism that the only principle they can accept is “whatever doesn’t give me warm and fuzzy feelings of comfort is bad and should be screamed down.” Neoliberalism tries to transform us all into infants with their insatiable needs, their incapacity to stand any frustration of their desires, their intolerance of delayed gratification, their complete dependence, their existence outside the realm of the word and within the realm of emotion.

That’s what we need to resist. Everybody on their own and all of us together. 

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