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Yet another vaguely menacing warning from a reader who knows better than I what ...

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Yet another vaguely menacing warning from a reader who knows better than I what I should be reading: “You seem intelligent. Why waste your time reading this racist shit? Read Frantz Fanon if you want to learn something.” This was in response to something I had recently written about H.L. Mencken. I remember when Fanon was fashionable, when people who carried around the Grove Press edition of The Wretched of the Earth also conspicuously displayed a copy of Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man. Though they wished to give the impression that they were readers, these were not the sort of people who enjoyed or had a gift for the art of conversation, so I tended to avoid them.

In his introduction, titled “A Little Book,” to Max Beerbohm: A Kind of Life (Yale University Press, 2002), N. John Hall brings up another reader who seldom had compunctions about telling others what they should and should not read:
   
“In reading Max we might also take a cue from Harold Bloom on reading, even while we acknowledge that Bloom holds no special brief for comedy, is himself not a Maximilian, and has become something of a crank. Yet his aesthetically driven words on reading seem pertinent.”

Hall quotes Bloom quoting Dr. Johnson: “Clear your mind of cant, i.e. of sectarian thinking,” and then quotes Bloom himself (from How to Read and Why – a title that has always offended me): “[H]e urges, Do not attempt to improve your neighbor or your neighborhood by your reading.”

For once, Bloom is right on the money. I would add to his proviso: “and by your writing.” Leave people alone. Most are not stupid. Let them make up their own minds. We don’t want to be sermonized. We're not children. Such presumption is an ugly vice. In a review published in First Things, John Wilson correctly notes that “didacticism in fiction is all the rage.” Didacticism, in fact, is the enemy of not just fiction but most of literature. So is humor, as here exemplified by two of its masters, Mencken and Beerbohm. Hall writes in his introduction:

“A caveat, if you will, about reading Max or looking at his caricatures: you and I must try not to be lulled into acceptance of the received idea that because a thing is amusing, or light, or comic, it is not serious or important.”

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plewis
11 days ago
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Chesterton’s Schoolhouse

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Peeps in my Twitter feed sometimes talk about homeschooling their future offspring. I get it, public schools are awful – the kids are bullies, the teachers incompetent, and the curriculum is hogwash bathed in whatever leftist ideology happens to be in vogue. Public schools turn children into brainwashed drones.

But then… I remember a time when people used to be voluntarily indoctrinated en masse. Back when it was normal to put on your Sunday clothes and sit on a bench while receiving sermons in fictional stories. It seems like there was some value to having everyone congregate once a week, act polite to those of different economic backgrounds, maybe even feign an interest in others’ lives.

If nothing else, religion created a common fear of some paranormal force. That’s nothing to laugh at — the Roman banks began in temples consecrated to the ancient gods. Shared truths keep a community together, even if they’re not founded in fact. Buuuut these particular truths were oppressive to alternative lifestyles, and now they’re all but dead.

Another oppressive institution that no longer exists: Conscription. People used to be acutely aware of every war because they or their kids or the neighbors’ kids could all get drafted for service. Now that we’ve moved to an all-volunteer military force, the country is blissfully unaware that we’re fighting ongoing wars in seven different countries. I mean, the kids from Appalachia and flyover states are fighting those wars, and probably they know a thing or two about Libya and Yemen. The rest of us stay home and focus on more important things like Equality.

Nixon ended the draft in 1973 to get the hippies to stop protesting Vietnam. It worked, but… maybe it was better to have the entire population aware of ongoing warfare?

Another thing: I lived in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots, when the city basically turned into a warzone. It was too much for LAPD, so the cops moved to strategic containment and let the inner city have at it.

That’s when the Rooftop Koreans appeared. They were recent immigrants in South Central LA, left high and dry to defend their shops and homes.

The Roof Koreans didn’t just hop onto buildings on a whim. South Korea has mandatory military service along with annual training for young adult males. Given proximity to North Korea, they take military preparedness quite seriously. When all hell broke loose, these ex-Armed Forces guys knew how to grab their guns, face the front line, and coordinate a defense.

That’s a valuable life skill! Second Amendment advocates insist that the right to bear arms will protect against government tyranny, but 90% of the country doesn’t even know what to do with one of these things. We’re still trying to figure out how to get the chainsaw attachment to go on the assault rifle. Which end up? The rooftops will be sparsely populated, is what I’m trying to say.

Public schools suck, but maybe there are some overlooked skills that can only be provided by a public school education. I just did a search and found a list of things that kids learn in kindergarten. The first two are “Share everything” and “Play fair”. There are valid societal reasons why it might be good to have children brainwashed with these ideas, yet these are things that will definitely be lost in a homeschool based on Ayn Randian Objectivism.

Maybe I’m out of the loop and the exodus already happened, and anyone who still attends public school is like the last person in a coal mining town. In the future, everyone will live in their own community of One.

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plewis
198 days ago
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An Apple a Day

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Even the powerful, tart Granny Smith cultivar is proving ineffective against new Gran-negative doctors.
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plewis
274 days ago
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popular
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alt_text_bot
292 days ago
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Even the powerful, tart Granny Smith cultivar is proving ineffective against new Gran-negative doctors.
tingham
292 days ago
Now I want a bushel of Granny Smith apples.

Waiting for the But

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Listen, I'm not a fan of the Spanish Inquisition OR predatory multi-level marketing schemes...
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plewis
315 days ago
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Covarr
327 days ago
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Listen, I just met you, and this is crazy...
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
327 days ago
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Listen, I'm not a fan of the Spanish Inquisition OR predatory multi-level marketing schemes...

touyahikaru: “As workers, most men in our culture (like working women) are controlled, dominated....

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touyahikaru:

“As workers, most men in our culture (like working women) are controlled, dominated. Unlike working women, working men are fed daily a fantasy diet of male supremacy and power. In actuality, they have very little power, and they know it. Yet they do not rebel against the economic order or make revolution. They are socialized by ruling powers to accept their dehumanization and exploitation in the public world of work, and they are taught to expect that the private world, the world of home and intimate relationships, will restore to them their sense of power, which they equate with masculinity. They are taught that they will be able to rule in the home, to control and dominate, that this is the big payoff for their acceptance of an exploitative economic social order. By condoning and perpetuating male domination of women to prevent rebellion on the job, ruling male capitalists ensure that male violence will be expressed in the home and not in the work force.”

— bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (via heavyweightheart)

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plewis
334 days ago
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ScottInPDX
340 days ago
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I really wish this didn't feel as true as it does.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth
197 days ago
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shanel
342 days ago
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Yuuuuup
New York, New York
197 days ago
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Turmoil

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
At first, the Encouragement Drones seemed so innocent...


Today's News:

See ya tonight, geeks!



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plewis
342 days ago
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afeman
362 days ago
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I want a "down with consumerism" t-shirt
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