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Dominance and Monopoly (and Ideology) In the next section, Walzer presents two new concepts, to go along with the discussion of goods and social meanings in the beginning of the chapter: dominance and monopoly. A dominant good is one that will get its possessor some other, unrelated goods. If you have money, you can buy food, but it doesn’t work the other way around, because money is the dominant good in a market society. And it is often—in fact, usually—the case that one group of people has a monopoly over that good. Thus, when land ownership was the dominant good in Europe, those who owned land tended also to have political power, office, religious honors, and so on, and this was the class of aristocrats. When ownership of capital or financial wealth became the dominant good, the society’s other goods shifted to them, as well, and to the new moneyed middle classes. Thus, societies can be classified and characterized by identifying the good dominant in each, and the class that tends to hold that good. This is a framework for understanding and categorizing societies, not a full explanation. The shift of other goods to the newly dominant class wasn’t immediate, and in some cases may never have been complete. I’m sure Walzer would agree that the framework isn’t the be-all and end-all. And it’s a useful analysis, but it does appear to blur into dogmatism: In every society, one good is dominant over all others. In every society, one group... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bianca Steele
A week or two ago, the New York Times’ “Bookends” section asked Rivka Galchen and Benjamin Moser to write short essays on the question, “Is there an unforgivable literary sin?” (Whether or not this has anything to do with The New Republic’s publishing a complaint by the notoriously William Giraldi’s against false memoirs and novels, titled “The Unforgivable Half Truths of Memoir,” is unknown.) As happens fairly often, the writers both punt on the question that seems to have been asked, but come up with something worth reading, anyway. In this case, both write disquisitions on sin and forgiveness. I really liked Galchen’s essay, which explores her discomfort with the whole concept of something being “unforgivable.” She relates a bunch of episodes from her own life, and her experience with other people’s religions, to illustrate what the word actually means to her. You don’t really find an essay like this much anymore. It reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s way of working. Woolf is an essayist who uses an almost novelistic or fiction-based form to explore her own ideas and to explore the way the world feels to her. What Woolf does in her essays is interweave speculation with very precisely imagined descriptions of scenes, so that the whole creates a very clear argument in the reader’s mind. Galchen does something like the same thing, inviting the reader to follow along with her thought processes and come to her own conclusions. Moser, on the other hand, takes a more academic approach.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2016 at Bianca Steele
The X-Files: I had been a fan of The X-Files till the bitter end. I didn’t start watching it from the beginning. I had really loved VR5 (someone please get this out on DVD or Blu-Ray!), which had starred Lori Singer—costarring Louise Fletcher, as her now mostly catatonic mother, and Anthony Heald, as one of her quasi-mentors—as a young woman trying to find answers about her past and her missing father and twin sister, working her way into a virtual-reality network that she charmingly jacked into by way of an old-fashioned acoustic-coupling modem. It was often visually stunning and never the same twice, but it was canceled after a single season. The X-Files was on after VR5, or just before it, or something, and I kept the TV on once, or maybe there was a delay from preemption, and saw most of the episode on the Norwegian oil rig, but never bothered to watch it regularly until VR5 had gone away. What pulled me in was the chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, and the way the show overall evoked a feeling from my childhood adolescence, which I connected with science fiction movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Wargames, and which I’d felt I’d long outgrown (especially in its less than equal vision of gender relations—I’d somehow never noticed that Ally Sheedy actually doesn’t really get to do anything cool). I stuck it out to, I think, even the second movie (not... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at Bianca Steele
Chapter One is titled “Complex Equality” and begins with sections titled “Pluralism” and “A Theory of Goods.” Each of these first two sections contains a kind of analysis of a small number of concepts from political theory. As a non-scholar, I feel I have to know how these should be taken. Are these Walzer’s proposals, or are they Walzer’s summaries of the scholarly consensus? Distributive Justice Walzer describes “distributive justice” as a theory about the distribution of everything within a society, even things that aren’t normally transferable, and so on. This sounds like a good idea, and almost obvious. How else could philosophers and other thinkers evaluate the justice of a society, other than by characterizing the distribution of various bad or good things among its members? Why should questions of the distribution of one thing be discussed in different terms than the distribution of others? Moreover, as will be seen in the following pages, Walzer is responding to A Theory of Justice, a far-reaching theory published about a decade earlier by John Rawls. It’s not unreasonable to expect that Rawls is interested in justice as it applies to everything that might be shared either justly or unjustly. However, this is not what Rawls was doing. (At least, it’s not what he’s taken to have been doing, from the vantage point of today. It would be interested to learn whether he addressed this question somewhere in the very long text of his book, but for me, that’s a research project... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Bianca Steele
Since writing my last post, I’ve watched the first hour of The Magicians, which has been available on-demand for a few weeks—it’s the first half of the pilot, which will be shown in full tonight. It looks like the changes are drastic enough to change things I’d felt were essential to the way the books worked, and only some of the time interesting enough to suggest an alternative vision of the series’ own. Some of the things I liked best about the novels are obviously going to be missing from the television show. The show seems to shift the story’s genre to a kind of urban fantasy that I guess you see pretty often in this kind of show, from a different kind of religious science fiction/fantasy in which, it seems to me, the connection between the real world and the magical one are somewhat different. The Magicians was often called “Harry Potter for young adults,” but it really owed more to The Chronicles of Narnia. And to my mind the differences between Grossman’s world and Lewis’s are very telling. C.S. Lewis associated his fantasy realm with the church. This suggests that what happens in Narnia is very important in our own world. Lewis’s society was, after all, a Christian one (Lewis seems to have believed that it wasn’t, really, not quite, but this does not come across). Grossman associates his with the university. This gives Fillory a more “optional” feel than Narnia has. A reader can disbelieve in Fillory... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2016 at Bianca Steele
Sonya Saraiya’s review of the new SyFy series, The Magicians, begins as follows: The smartest thing Syfy’s “The Magicians” does, right from the start, is putting protagonist Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) in a psych ward. I disagree. At least I’m going to want to use a different definition of “smart.” It’s clever, or something. It’s insightful. And it’s a little disturbing in terms of what it suggests the series is going to do. Lev Grossman’s description of Brakebills, in the opening chapters of the novel, is very precisely descriptive—and very evocative. It did, in fact, remind me of the opening of Susan Kaysen’s memoir, Girl, Interrupted, which takes place in a mental hospital. Interestingly, the description of that hospital was written in a way that made it reminiscent of a scene set in a university. That Grossman, whether deliberately or as a result of some dreamlike unconscious process of thinking about situations and images, created the scene he did, speaks to his skill and to the quality of the book itself. That the writers of a TV series excavated some “real meaning” of the scene, and decided the story was better if Quentin was mentally disturbed, speaks to their arrogantly deciding that the book is only “material”—but even more than that—to their apparently deciding that they know the meaning of that material better than the person who originally wrote it down. There are parts of many books—The Magicians among them—that I kind of feel their authors “got wrong” in one... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2016 at Bianca Steele
There’s a discussion going on at the blog Bleeding Heart Libertarians about a new book by Jacob T. Levy on pluralism. Reading the posts, I noticed that Levy uses the word “pluralism” in a different way than Michael Walzer does. Levy’s use of the word is more like what I’d expect (partly, probably, because I’ve read a lot of things by him and the people he’s in dialogue with, published a lot more recently than Spheres of Justice was). By “pluralism,” Walzer means something like (to put it in more MacIntyrean terms, which are the only ones I know for raising my understanding of it to this level of abstraction) that there are different methods and logics that are appropriate to different realms of inquiry. He doesn’t (that I see) discuss the idea that there are different groups or institutions within society. In fact, he explicitly talks in terms of “society” as a whole. He takes it for granted that anybody in the society can criticize any aspect of it, as long as they do so in appropriate terms. Levy, though, means that there are different groups in society, and some of them should be protected from criticism by the others. I think Walzer would reject this. However, I don’t think Walzer provides much support for fending off Levy’s interpretation. After about thirty years, it seems to me that Spheres of Justice—though it clearly is not offered as an argument in favor of something like what Levy proposes—can fit pretty... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2016 at Bianca Steele
I read The Woman Upstairs, the novel Claire Messud published after The Emperor’s Children, a few years ago, not long after it came out. I was intrigued by the news coverage, and it sounded interesting. It’s about a woman who’s a New England native, an artist, whose life becomes entwined with the family of another, more successful, artist, a South Asian woman married to a Frenchman, and whose own artistic vision is rejuvenated as a result. The novel’s setting is split between the studio Nora shares with the other woman, the public elementary school where she teaches, and her elderly father and aunt who live nearby. I was right to expect it would be interesting. Nora is a terrific character, and her struggles to find a way to think about how she might fit in, in both the artistic and the domestic worlds, are fascinating. So is the depiction of a somewhat lopsided female friendship. It is absolutely worth seeing how (and how far) this kind of egotistical artist character can be depicted, when the character is a woman instead of a man. It’s very likely that I’ll read this novel again. I did feel there was something “off” about the depiction of Nora. At this point, I suppose that I’m saying, basically, that I would have written the novel differently, which is a silly kind of criticism to make. I mean that in both senses, though: I would have written this novel (or at least a novel with this... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at Bianca Steele
The Emperor’s Children is a novel about intellectuals that is not a novel of ideas. The three central characters are graduates of Brown from some time in the early 1990s, all English majors, all trying to make it as writers of one kind or another, living in New York in the months after George W. Bush was elected president. (The coyness of that sentence, in its allusions to chronology, are a reflection of the book.) Marina Thwaite is living off her parents’ money and halfheartedly trying to finish a contracted book on children’s fashions through the ages. Julius Clarke is a critic for venues like the Village Voice who makes just enough money to live hand to mouth in a decrepit downtown studio and party with more well-off people. Danielle Rankin is a television producer for a PBS affiliate. The latter two are from the Midwest; Marina was raised in Manhattan, the child of a famous columnist. Additional characters are her father, Murray Thwaite, and her cousin, Frederick (Bootie) Tubb. Bootie dropped out of Oswego after one semester, because he thought it was bullshit—he’d been accepted into Harvard but hid this fact from his family and teachers because he couldn’t afford it—and has decided to try to become educated anyway, somehow. The Emperor’s Children is an ambitious book, and it fulfills those ambitions well. The story is compelling and the reader keeps turning the pages, not just from a kind of visceral suspense or a desire to see how events... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2016 at Bianca Steele
Phoebe Maltz Bovy has written an essay on class diversity in fiction: namely, the lack of it. She raises a lot of good questions, though her conclusion seems to me to be overly pessimistic. In her first paragraph, Bovy equivocates on the meaning of the word “representation.” In discussions of diversity, representation means that people from different groups are represented in the group of people doing something. In art, representation, of course, means something different. Representation means showing people who belong to a certain group, or a certain type. It also refers to the way in which they are shown. Bovy conflates these two meanings in order to suggest that what people who call for diversity of novelists really want is to see people like themselves in fiction or in films, and to allow her to explore the latter question. I do think this question is interesting. I’m not in a hurry, though, to tell people who are asking for, say, more women novelists reviewed in important venues, that they should be satisfied with really good depictions of women by male authors, much less that a meditation on why “representation” is important is something on which they should spend their time. She next gets to the meat of her argument: the representation of socioeconomic class in fiction. Specifically, she is riffing off recent essays by working-class writers who’ve discussed issues of personal import to themselves. They’ve felt uncomfortable in writing programs, or felt compelled to censor themselves, or they find... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2016 at Bianca Steele
Arbitrage can occur when the value of a good in one place is different from the value of the same good in a different place. Rather than bringing the seller together with a buyer who’s willing to pay a lot, an arbitrageur pays the seller’s low price, then brings the good to the buyer and sells it for a higher one. Arbitrage depends on the seller’s not learning the true market value of the good they have for sale, or if this isn’t the case, on the impossibility of the seller’s making direct contact with the true purchaser of their goods. Arbitrage is also the practice of bringing buyers and sellers together. It’s the practice depicted in the 1988 movie Working Girl. The intern played by Melanie Griffith puts together a deal that allows one corporation to buy another. The firm she works for acts as a go-between, letting the buyer and seller know that a deal could be made, and provides loans that let the deal go through. She tells them about a possibility they don’t yet know exists (though it’s possible they could if they wanted to, and did the research she performed), and earns a commission on the sale. “Arbitrage” is also the name of a 2012 movie starring Richard Gere and Brit Marling, as well as Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, and Nate Parker. Gere plays an incredibly wealthy financier who’s about to sell his firm, at which Marling’s character, his daughter, is an important executive. There’s... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2016 at Bianca Steele
It appears that “microbeads” have finally been banned. These are tiny hard objects that are put in cleansers and other skin-care products, to give them scrubbing or abrasive properties. When these started appearing in face cleansers I bought, I just assumed they were some water-soluble thing. They’re not—they’re tiny bits of plastic that go into the water supply and just sit there. I kept buying them for a while, until I realized that. Some products had non-microbead versions at first, but these progressively went away, until there was only one choice, or maybe two, that didn’t have them. I’d stopped using them on my face, first, because I’d realized that problems with my ear had begun just about the same time I started using the new grapefruit-scented scrubbing cleanser. An outer-ear infection, apparently. I found out this was a possibility only after I found something about it on an English site, after searching for “ear” and “facial cleanser” in connection. The serious medical sites just call it “swimmer’s ear,” though some state at the bottom of the page that it can be caused by chemicals. It’s apparently more of a skin irritation than a properly medical thing. Anyway, daily nauseating pounding in my left ear went away when I started protecting it with a cotton ball when I washed my hair or face. The idea that putting tiny bits of plastic in things that would go down the sewer would seem to be obviously a bad one, you’d think, but... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2016 at Bianca Steele
A useful collection of links about the standoff in Oregon between the federal government and armed men, associated with the militia movement and claiming to defend the rights of ranchers against supposed government overreach, can be found at Bookforum’s “Omnivore” site, here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2016 at Bianca Steele
Beyond what the author is doing in writing the book, what does this book set out to do? I think it is reasonable to assume that the book will describe a theory of equality and of justice from a leftist point of view. We can assume that it will be critical of the status quo and of laissez-faire, and will be supportive of attempts to reform society to make it more equal and more fair, to more broadly distribute the goods of society, both material and immaterial (education and so on), and to weaken reaction’s hold on society as a whole. We can assume that it will embrace the liberal and left-wing critiques of the ten or twenty years preceding its writing, like John Kenneth Galbraith’s and Michael Harrington’s. We can assume that a young reader of left-wing or reformist sympathies will find in Spheres of Justice many good ideas that will help him or her understand their allies. (Conversely, we could assume that a reader opposed to liberal ideas will find information about what their opponents believe.) And this is what we find. In this preface, Walzer offers a brief positive defense of equality, grounded in the opposition to domination, and especially to illegitimate domination. He sets up a contrast between equality and egalitarianism. The latter is absolutist, and he does not defend it. He doesn’t defend the idea that equality means one group imposing its values on others. He doesn’t defend the idea that one form of equality... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2015 at Bianca Steele
LFC, You've been making comments that would be obvious trolls from a commenter I had no history with. We have had previous encounters, but not the kind that would make this acceptable. I'm not posting these so you can make almost equally lengthy posts on my blog saying nothing more than that I'm wrong. I'm sure you would get more readers if you just posted them on your own.
Spheres of Justice is obviously in some ways an academic book. It’s written by a professor of its subject matter and it clearly is intended to provide its readers access to a current academic debate. But Spheres of Justice, as I mentioned earlier, has few footnotes and few references to the historical and scholarly literature, and was put out by a general-interest publisher. It is presumably for the general-interest reader. It’s worth mentioning, I think, that this kind of book is very rarely seen these days. These days there is more of a distinct split between books that presuppose readers will have a certain academic background, or at least the ability to follow academic prose, and will want the kind of citations of sources that would be sufficient in an academic book—and books that are intended more for entertainment, or at most a journalistic kind of narrative instruction, which have to use narrative and common language to engage the reader and make the book’s contents go down easily. There are essayists, intellectuals, and journalists out there, some of them academics, as well, who write the latter kind of thing in generalist magazines; but there seems to be little call for books that contain original academic ideas but make their appeal directly to the common reader. It’s possible to argue, probably, that the reason for this has to do with publishers’ mergers and the lack of publishers willing to support mid-range books. Walzer states that he intends “to stand in the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2015 at Bianca Steele
I listen to public radio a lot. I’ve been listening to WGBH for almost thirty years, since I moved to Massachusetts. I would listen to Ellen Kushner’s and others’ folk shows every weekend afternoon. Now those shows no longer exist—the folk music scene of the 1980s apparently petered out, and Kushner started a music-and-spirituality program that eventually became too much for me to take—but for a long time, WGBH radio played lots and lots of really good classical and jazz. A couple of years ago, they turned their original frequency entirely over to news (with a few hours of jazz late on weekend nights), and bought a second station that would play classical music only. This station, WCRB, had previously been a commercial classical-only station. WGBH had, for a long time, defined themselves as the station that didn’t have to make the kind of commercial compromises that other station did. But a bunch of their classical announcers had gone into retirement or semi-retirement, and they’d already been limiting music to fewer and fewer hours of the day. They bought WCRB to keep it from folding and got most or all of their announcers (a couple of whom had been filling in now and then already). For a while it seemed like they were going to take over existing shows and merge the two station’s sensibilities. But after a few years, I just don’t like the music they’re playing. It is too much the same pieces, over and over again, and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2015 at Bianca Steele
What is equality and why is it a good we should aspire to? Michael Walzer writes: [I]t’s not the existence of aristocrats and commoners or of office holders and ordinary citizens (and certainly not the existence of different races or sexes) that produces the popular demand for the abolition of social and political difference; it’s what aristocrats do to commoners, what office holders do to ordinary citizens, what people with power do to people without it. The experience of subordination—of personal subordination, above all—lies behind the vision of equality. So, what is subordination? Set aside what might be called domination for its own sake: the exercise of power by someone who takes pleasure in pushing other people around. Walzer is pretty clear that this is not true of every single exercise of power. Sometimes power is exercised in order to get something done for the good of the group or of individuals. Subordination might be something like what Kant called “tutelage”: being unable to make decisions for oneself. Unfreedom, in that sense. Imagine a person at work who is being dominated by the boss. In the worst case, they are being prohibited from doing things that are necessary for their bodily health. They are made to work in unsafe conditions, or for excessive hours. They are cheated of their wages. They are not given bathroom breaks. There are no fire doors. These are obviously cases of domination. The workers are unable to protect their physical health, because of the domination... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2015 at Bianca Steele
Cinema Verité is a made-for-TV movie (1-1/2 hours long) about a real-life historical event: the making of a documentary about a “typical American family” by a film crew that stayed in their house with them nearly constantly, which was shown on PBS. This was evidently the first time such a thing had been seen, and there are a number of videos already available that cover some of the same material, in journalistic form. Cinema Verité dubs An American Family the first “reality TV show” and addresses the intentions of the filmmakers, as well as the family members who agreed to this, and continues to follow the characters in the calamitous aftermath of the broadcast itself. The documentary followed the lives of an upper-middle class family in Santa Barbara, in 1970 (including one family member who at the time lived in New York, and was gay but not out to his family), and turned out to be the documentation of a process that resulted in their divorce. The TV movie suggests that divorce is what the film’s director wanted to show all along, and that he may have manipulated the family into cooperating with him in ways that documentary ethics shouldn’t have allowed. The movie isn’t perfect. Its focal point doesn’t always seem to be in the right place, and its pacing is off. There isn’t a real narrative arc. And there isn’t enough context for a present-day viewer to understand the cultural issues that would have been in play in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Bianca Steele
A few months ago, when trigger warnings and college syllabi were the main trendy object of discussion, one of the arguments against such warnings, and against changes to courses’ reading lists, was that students ought to be challenged, to read things that make them uncomfortable, that make them think. Leaving aside whether there are places where making students literally uncomfortable in their feelings might not be an appropriate goal for a course—I’d think the idea that there might be at least one place where a practice like this might be conceded, by everybody, to be misguided, as would the idea that sometimes, making at least some people uncomfortable might be entirely called for—I was struck by the number of college professors who wrote articles stating that one of the main things they liked to make students feel uncomfortable about was sex. One teacher, I remember (I think it was in the New Republic) listed a description of his reading list that showed it was entirely about sex: ranging from the eighteenth-century seduction novel Clarissa to a poem from the same era that imagined the ugliness of the king’s testicles as he had intercourse with his mistress. I don’t think I’m a prude, and I fully intend someday to read Clarissa (it’s quite long and I hear it’s somewhat tedious), but I had to ask why? Why these readings? Maybe fifty years ago, in the generation before mine, it probably seemed really edgy to assign undergraduates (or high school students), most... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2015 at Bianca Steele
LFC, Thanks for the comment. I don't have time to go back and check right now either, but it's possible I misremembered/conflated Pocock and Pettit, or I might be over-compressing something in other sources. I didn't mean "developed" to refer to any specific concept that would exclude what you say above. The introduction to Lovett's book is available online (http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/politics/seminars/lovett_chap1.pdf) and, while he goes back before Walzer in discussing the concept of domination, he doesn't quote any use of the word earlier, and notes that dictionaries of social science from the time don't include it. He does note a couple of tangentially related books that use the term in slightly different meanings, and refers to the appendix. He has Pettit using the word a decade or two later. Re. complex equality: Yes, it's not entirely clear what direction the argument will take from just the preface.
My daughter and I watched Star Wars together a few months ago, and she is aware that there’s a new sequel coming out. The other day she came home and told me that she and her friends had played “Star Wars” at recess. I grilled her, very carefully, to try and determine whether any of them had made The Big Reveal during the game. I decided that the time to watch The Empire Strikes Back was now. I saw this in a theater during its first run, when I was thirteen. (Someone had already made The Big Reveal during an eighth-grade graduation party at which toy light sabers had been present.) At the time, I was still reading science fiction pretty regularly. I brought home a making-of magazine I bought at the theater, and read and re-read it obsessively. I know I’ve seen the movie at least once since then, but probably on broadcast TV, on a poor-quality set, and possibly not even the whole thing. I didn’t expect it to hold up perfectly thirty-five years and four more sequels later, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be too bad. My not-quite-live blogging: The opening credits are really pretty exciting. I can imagine being very ready to see the sequel, in 1980, and watching the beginning with huge anticipation. The text starts scrolling up the screen, and my daughter says, “Episode V—this is episode 5!”, and I pause the movie and explain to her. The movie really looks nice. The... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at Bianca Steele
I’ve had a copy of Michael Walzer’s Spheres of Justice for a long time. It looks like I picked it up from a remainder table, but probably I had already heard of it by then. I haven’t read much of it yet. I may have made an effort to read it all from the beginning once, but most likely didn’t get far. I’ve been unable to get much of a sense of a political position or theory from it. It’s a defense of “pluralism,” meaning a refusal to reduce life to a single “sphere,” a defense of the idea that there are social ideals other than strictly equal distributive justice of material goods. Most of the book jumps around to different times and societies, illustrating what’s meant by terms like “membership” and “recognition,” and how these concepts are important to how human beings conceive of themselves and their lives. It appears to be in the vein of the communitarianism that was somewhat prevalent at the time (which is how it’s referred to in the works I’d seen that cite it): writers like Christopher Lasch, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Charles Taylor. Every so often I pick it up (because it happens to be in a bookcase that made its way into my bedroom after my daughter was born and we needed the space it occupied for her play yard). I thought of making some notes as I read, and I think I will actually blog some of my reading. The biggest question... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2015 at Bianca Steele
Not long ago, if you wanted to know something, you had to drive to the library to look it up. You could call a reference librarian on the phone, depending on how comfortable you felt bothering another human being and asking her to do your work for free, but for most things, you had to be at the library, both to look for places where you might find your answers, and to find those places and read them. A little closer to the present day, you might have been able to find your sources by making a telephone call with your computer, but you’d still have to get to the library so that you could look at them. Almost forty years ago, before my grandmother died, she used to tell me stories about our relatives. One story involved something that amounted to a public fact, about a public person, even a famous one. If I’d been very interested in that person, I could have looked her up in books and magazine articles and found out more public facts about her. After Internet search became a common thing, I did a search for that person and discovered a connection to an even more famous and newsworthy thing. Surely if that had anything to do with our family, I imagined, my grandmother would have mentioned it. She hadn’t, so I figured that either I had misremembered, or she’d been wrong. Or maybe an alternate explanation that could just about fit the same... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2015 at Bianca Steele
LFC, Two things: I'm not arguing for the origin of diversity training being in academia. I'm saying there's reason to question the idea that it originates in the corporate world, and also people in the corporate world do believe it originates in academia. I think the question should be considered an open one. I'd probably guess, if I had to, for the reasons I gave in the post, that it originates in academia. Also, I didn't go through diversity training at any university. "What I'd found on campus" was poorly worded, sorry. I had in mind the way race and political issues were discussed, not administratively motivated stuff, which may itself have been one of the outcomes, along with Black Studies faculty, of the 1980s protests and wasn't present then.