Special, special, what do you get?

4 08 2013

Pressed on the topic of Hitler, Borges said that “of course I hate and loathe him. His anti-Semitism was very foolish.” This is hard to read because, although we should know better, it’s difficult to stop ourselves expecting wisdom from a person who happens to be a genius.

—Mark O’Connell

I used to believe that talented people were better people.

I wouldn’t have put it that way, back then, don’t know that I even knew I believed this, but I almost certainly did. If you were talented you were special, and if you were special, you were special all the way through.

I think this bias cuts through our celebrity culture, such that fame itself is a signifier of specialness. We want to meet, become friends with these celebrities, hoping that by virtue of being picked by someone special, we’ll become special ourselves.

I don’t want to push that too hard, not least because there’s also a knowingness about this desire, and jokes about “My boyfriend George Clooney” poke holes in the whole cloth of celebrity-dom. Still, why else would any of us who are not-famous and not-friends of the famous care enough about them to make them famous unless we though there was something more to them than [what led them to] the fame itself?

Anyway, it was well into adulthood before I even became aware of this equation, and while I’ve pretty much disabuse myself of the notion, those times that I have met famous folk (mostly actors, mostly while working at Big & National Bookstore), I’ve had to remind myself that they are just folks.

Yes, just-folks with name recognition, just-folks with talent, but when not on stage or in front of a camera, just folks, full stop.

Still, it must be said: I don’t tell my friends when I meet non-famous just-folks.





Give me the gun

4 08 2013

Yet another article about yet another shitty government official and in the comments, the usual:

Yeah, we should totally give up our guns to these tyrants!

Okay, yeah, comments (often a cesspool, not representative, blah blah), but this sentiment is so commonly expressed in the comments that someone less obsessed with gun regs/rights (take yer pick) is likely simply to skip past them.

I, for example, usually skip past.

But today a new thought hit: Guns are a simple answer to a tough problem.

I’m a good-government type of gal, but any leftist who isn’t at least skeptical of governmental power isn’t doing it right. I like big, messy, pluralist, complicated societies, and the only way to live well in a big, messy, pluralist, complicated societies is to establish some kind of rule of law to navigate those messes and complications.  And if that law is to have a chance at approaching justice, good government is required.

But it’s also manifestly the case that government isn’t always good, that law falls short of justice, and sometimes you really do have to defend yourself by any means necessary.

Thus, while it’s easy for me to roll my eyes at so-called gun-nuts, there is some small part of me that gets some small part of their agenda. There’s a lot I don’t get and a lot I don’t agree with, but the notion that the government is not always to be trusted. . . ?

Anyway, trying to wrest good government out of bad is hard, hard work, rarely straightforward, and almost always takes too long. And even if you think you’ll fail, you have to believe enough in the worth of good government to try.

Not everyone believes this, of course, which is why some prefer the quick recourse to weaponry. But there may be others who are driven less by animus against the government (or the big messy society which requires it) than a frustration that the Right and the Good are just so goddamned obvious and just as goddamned obviously never to be achieved by standard operating procedures, that the best way to the Right and the Good is to blow a hole through those SOPs.

Thus, the gun: It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s done.

~~~

h/t: Brad DeLong





Thinking like the sea

4 08 2013

Good gifs are amusing for about as long as they last, which, all things considered, ain’t bad.

This also means they’re highly disposable: you want a quick hit, and that’s it.

Still, string a bunch of them together under a common theme, and, well, they can take on a kind of extended absurdity—as with Research in Progress.

As with all absurdity, you gotta be able to giggle at how fucked we are.

~~~

h/t Eszter Hargittai, Crooked Timber