Worthwhile intertubez finds

User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 31192
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by thoreau »

A Laura Kipnis essay on transgression:

http://laurakipnis.com/wp-content/uploa ... -Elegy.pdf
Transgression has been replaced by trauma as the cultural concept of the hour: making rules rather than breaking them has become the signature aesthetic move, that’s just how it is, there’s no going back. New historical actors have taken up places on the social stage and made their bids for cultural hegemony, having sent the old ones to re-education camp. These days it’s the transgressed-upon who are the protagonists of the moment: the offended, people who are very upset by things, their interventions a drumbeat on social media, their tremulous voices ascendant. (Online cultural commissar is now a promising career path.) And the mainstream cultural institutions are, on the whole, deferring, offering solace and apologias, posting warning signs and caveats to what might cause aesthetic injury. Aesthetic injuries flourish nonetheless.
I loved the last few decades of the twentieth century, when one after another f undamentalist minister was exposed as a scummy lying adulterer and the world made sense. The right was still at it throughout the 1990s, waging their losing culture wars — it was almost too easy to get them to huff and puff. When none other than the reptilian Rudolph Giuliani, then mayor of New York, threatened to shut down the Brooklyn Museum in retribution for an art exhibit he deemed offensive, the museum produced a yellow stamp announcing that the work in the exhibit “may cause shock, vomiting, confusion, panic, euphoria and anxiety.” Note that as of 1999 it was still possible to be ironic about offending people, because offended people were generally regarded as morons.
"...if that monkey gets any smarter it's going to start shorting TSLA."
--JD
User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 14852
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Kolohe »

That was well written, but there’s a few unexamined premises that undermine it. E.g. what if 30is 40ish old men aren’t the best interpreters of tween girls coming of age, and never have been? What if professor - student relationships are Actually Bad?

But also, and she almost gets there with a line about how some of the left sees identity politics as corporate liberalism - what if bourgeois values are Actual Good?

ETA - coincidently, I watched the first episode of that Fran’s Leibovitz /Martin Scorsese Netflix miniseries ‘Pretend it’s a city’ last night. So I’m a roll with Boomer women telling their stories of New York City in the 1970s.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex
User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 31192
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by thoreau »

I don't think everyone can or should be as Bohemian and free-spirited as Kipnis desires. I read Kipnis less for a final verdict than a point to consider along the way. I agree with her that shifting scolding from the right to the left has made the culture more boring.

Also, I think lefty scolds have not really completed the shifts necessary if they are to advocate for Bourgeois values. There is still a vague sense that they need to be nonjudgmental about certain things. They still haven't quite decided how far to go in calling for sexual restraint. So a lot of sexual matters are either totally fine exploration that none should judge or Bad Things That Crossed A Line. They haven't yet accepted that drawing a line means reacting and cautioning people who are approaching it but not yet crossing it. Bourgeois values work best as values that one applies to many decisions, not just as a set of criticisms that kick in once you are at the line.

In other words, they have been very energetic in critiquing how people approach others in romantic and sexual situations (and much of that is positive, even if not all of it) but have not really contemplated the question of restraint in what people choose or say yes to. Regret is always blamed on the other rather than on the choice or (more productively) a mix of the two.

Likewise, they see transgression as harming others but have never asked if it also harms the soul of the transgressor.

It's not even that I necessarily want a more buttoned down culture, but the only balanced and sustainable way to get the buttoned down culture that they apparently seek is to concentrate as much on the development of the self as harm to others. All the critiques are "You hurt me" rather than "How do we develop the best in ourselves?"

Kipnis at least wants to sample and explore and accept the downsides. It's an ethos we can examine and decide whether or how far we want to go with it. Kipnis is a Bohemian who understands that if you ask people to push artistic bounds they will also push yours.
"...if that monkey gets any smarter it's going to start shorting TSLA."
--JD
User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 31192
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by thoreau »

I re-read the Kipnis essay after reading these two articles:

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/the ... tereotypes

https://www.thesgnl.com/2021/02/literary-canon-memes/

They are the context for the valuable points that I see Kipnis as getting at.
"...if that monkey gets any smarter it's going to start shorting TSLA."
--JD
User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 14852
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Kolohe »

Went down a rabbit hole looking up stuff in the Kipnis essay, and came across this, a long-ish disquisition on Philip Roth (of Portnoy’s complaint fame) which itself contains now-obscure references to numerous twentieth century literary figures (mostly Jewish). I.e. I didn’t recognize most of the names, but I did after looking up recognize something or someone they were associated with.

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/arti ... onsidered/

(Also weirdly folds into a memoir I recently read from Doris Kearns Goodwin, describing her childhood in 1940s/50s suburban Long Island, less than one generation removed from her parents and their peers upbringing in (white) Catholic & Jewish enclaves in Brooklyn)
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex
User avatar
Eric the .5b
Posts: 15532
Joined: 26 Apr 2010, 16:29

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Eric the .5b »

I'll give those essays a read in a bit, but having read some about #MeToInceste (wealthy French bohemians getting up to all sorts of child abuse in the name of sexual liberation decades back) and remembering the likes of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her scene in the US, I can't help thinking that it's not the worst idea on the left to have some fucking rules.

(And on the other hand, has the left not been this way since at least the 80s?)
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
Cet animal est très méchant / Quand on l'attaque il se défend.
User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 31192
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by thoreau »

Eric the .5b wrote: 20 Feb 2021, 18:55I can't help thinking that it's not the worst idea on the left to have some fucking rules.
Absolutely. It still seems, though, like the rules are solely about interactions between persons and less about personal restraint. On one level that seems sensible, because the problems happen when people interact. But if you're going to go down the path of rules then there's something to be said for avoiding things, for disciplining yourself, for looking out for your own morality as much as you look out for others. Because "Anything's good as long as everyone consents" makes the interactions REALLY high stakes. Maybe it's better to sometimes keep yourself away from those interactions.

Ambiguous hook-ups are less likely to happen if you are more cautious about hooking up for your own sake AND both of you are careful about consent. But everything is about consent and never about "Should I have sought this?" So when a person says "Yes" with some evidence of enthusiasm, and then regrets it, they have to search for reasons why the consent wasn't meaningful rather than reasons why they should steer clear in the future.

There's a reason why the best parts of cultural conservatism involve personal development as much as treatment of others.

Or, stepping away from sexual encounters, what of edgy art? Yes, I'm sure there was always some humorless leftist somewhere condemning an art exhibit but the charge was usually led by churchy types. (Then again, the second a Communist gets power they always become culturally illiberal, so, yeah.)
(And on the other hand, has the left not been this way since at least the 80s?)
Parts of it, definitely. But Tipper Gore was only left to the extent that she was Blue. She never seemed all that culturally lefty in any sense. I'm not saying all of this sprung fully-formed from an Oberlin Gender Studies Prof post-2000, but it seems like it's a trend that was still only in its earliest stages in the 80's.

I mean, yes, there was plenty of PC in the 80's and 90's, but there were also enough right-wing scolds getting attention that edgy art still felt more left-wing than reactionary. Nowadays sexually explicit art is likely to elicit lefty scolding and a Fox News segment on how terrible the lefty scolds are. I miss the days when Fox would have lamented sexually explicit art as moral degradation and some lefties would be all "Oh, yeah, we should defend this."
"...if that monkey gets any smarter it's going to start shorting TSLA."
--JD
User avatar
Eric the .5b
Posts: 15532
Joined: 26 Apr 2010, 16:29

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Eric the .5b »

thoreau wrote: 20 Feb 2021, 19:14I mean, yes, there was plenty of PC in the 80's and 90's, but there were also enough right-wing scolds getting attention that edgy art still felt more left-wing than reactionary. Nowadays sexually explicit art is likely to elicit lefty scolding and a Fox News segment on how terrible the lefty scolds are. I miss the days when Fox would have lamented sexually explicit art as moral degradation and some lefties would be all "Oh, yeah, we should defend this."
They would have never defended the same things. They never defended any nudity or whatever that random straight men would be interested in; Hell, back in the 70s, feminists teamed up with the Moral Majority to try to shut down Playboy.
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
Cet animal est très méchant / Quand on l'attaque il se défend.
User avatar
Warren
Posts: 30852
Joined: 26 Apr 2010, 17:03
Location: Goat Rope MO
Contact:

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Warren »

Eric the .5b wrote: 21 Feb 2021, 00:27
thoreau wrote: 20 Feb 2021, 19:14I mean, yes, there was plenty of PC in the 80's and 90's, but there were also enough right-wing scolds getting attention that edgy art still felt more left-wing than reactionary. Nowadays sexually explicit art is likely to elicit lefty scolding and a Fox News segment on how terrible the lefty scolds are. I miss the days when Fox would have lamented sexually explicit art as moral degradation and some lefties would be all "Oh, yeah, we should defend this."
They would have never defended the same things. They never defended any nudity or whatever that random straight men would be interested in; Hell, back in the 70s, feminists teamed up with the Moral Majority to try to shut down Playboy.
And Playboy was at least overtly objectifying women. Don't even get me started on Andrea Dworkin and her minions.

Still, I understand what t is saying. I remember the kerfuffle over the Mapplethorpe exhibit. There were some lines drawn and you knew who was on which side of them.
There was a pretty good movie made about that; Dirty Pictures starring James Woods. At the end the lawyer for the puritans says something like
People keep coming up to me and saying "Don't worry, we'll win next time. I tell them "We won this time". We may have lost in court, but the exhibit has been removed. No other museum will display it. The curator has been fired and all across the nation, boards and committees are now wary of displaying smut for not wanting to expose themselves to the backlash we will bring.
And I was like, You know, he's got a point there. It's like Scopes, only this time the religious wachaloons lost in court but won in the public sphere where it really matters.
The opinions which are still persecuted strike the majority as so monstrous and immoral that the general principle of toleration cannot be held to apply to them. But this is exactly the same view as that which made possible the tortures of the Inquisition. - Bertrand Russell
User avatar
thoreau
Posts: 31192
Joined: 06 May 2010, 12:56
Location: Back to the lab again

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by thoreau »

Warren wrote: 21 Feb 2021, 10:44 Still, I understand what t is saying. I remember the kerfuffle over the Mapplethorpe exhibit. There were some lines drawn and you knew who was on which side of them.
Pretty much this. Whatever the big advocacy groups were doing, you knew that your liberal friends generally didn't get too worked up about some dirty paintings and the churchy neighbor probably did. You knew that university faculties had a bunch of ACLU members who might not personally like the art but would sure as hell not want to see a museum come under fire.

Now your nominally liberal friends are more likely to express sympathy for whoever is protesting against art. College professors are more likely to look askance at anyone who defends offensive art, or use their rhetorical skills to play devil's advocate for the offended rather than make a point about a culture of openness.

And I'm sitting here all "But, Maplethorpe! 2 Live Crew!"
"...if that monkey gets any smarter it's going to start shorting TSLA."
--JD
User avatar
D.A. Ridgely
Posts: 20963
Joined: 26 Apr 2010, 17:09
Location: The Other Side

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

thoreau wrote: 21 Feb 2021, 11:32
Warren wrote: 21 Feb 2021, 10:44 Still, I understand what t is saying. I remember the kerfuffle over the Mapplethorpe exhibit. There were some lines drawn and you knew who was on which side of them.
Pretty much this. Whatever the big advocacy groups were doing, you knew that your liberal friends generally didn't get too worked up about some dirty paintings and the churchy neighbor probably did. You knew that university faculties had a bunch of ACLU members who might not personally like the art but would sure as hell not want to see a museum come under fire.

Now your nominally liberal friends are more likely to express sympathy for whoever is protesting against art. College professors are more likely to look askance at anyone who defends offensive art, or use their rhetorical skills to play devil's advocate for the offended rather than make a point about a culture of openness.

And I'm sitting here all "But, Maplethorpe! 2 Live Crew!"
But there's a proper time and a proper place for art. So, for example, I'd recommend "Piss Christ" be kept in the Vatican reliquary.
User avatar
Eric the .5b
Posts: 15532
Joined: 26 Apr 2010, 16:29

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Eric the .5b »

thoreau wrote: 21 Feb 2021, 11:32 And I'm sitting here all "But, Maplethorpe! 2 Live Crew!"
It's like when people point out that "small government" conservatives are happy to spend a lot of money and increase the power and scope of government operations they like.

For most of those people, the whole freedom of expression business was bullshit the entire time.

The logic of those people was that Maplethorpe and 2 Live Crew offended the white conservative-ish mainstream, so they made noises about freedom. The same damn people looked at talk radio and whimpered about the need for a return of the Fairness Doctrine, if not finding excuses to get Limbaugh and company off the air.
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
Cet animal est très méchant / Quand on l'attaque il se défend.
User avatar
Kolohe
Posts: 14852
Joined: 06 May 2010, 10:51

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by Kolohe »

when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex
User avatar
dbcooper
Posts: 18882
Joined: 05 May 2010, 15:40

Re: Worthwhile intertubez finds

Post by dbcooper »

Great thread:

Slip inside a sleeping bag.
Post Reply