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Showing posts from February 26, 2017

dialect and defeat

I’ve been reading two books that are mainy written in dialect, or at least non-standard English. One is Their Eyes were watching God, Zora Hurston’s most famous novel, where the  black Southern dialect alternates with an authorial voice written in standard English. Hurston had a folklorist’s expertise in dialect. She wrote the novel in Haiti, and must surely have been thinking about how Haitian creole had separated itself out from French to the extent that it was a separate language. Hurston was right proud of her rendering of black speech, and criticized Richard Wright for what she believed were amateur mistakes in trying to convey its sound and power. The other book, Ice Cream Star, by Sandra Newman, is about a future in which the US is populated largely by tribes of teens, who all face a disease that eliminates them when they enter their young twenties. The teens are black – although the plot in the book begins with an encounter with a “Roo”, a white man who is presumably Russi

how bad was the Democratic response to Trump? Very very very bad

I've been thinking about this today, a little obsessively. And I've come to the conclusion that the dead heads in the Democratic establishment in DC are innumerate in a serious way. Most of them are old white people, like Schumer and Pelosi. So perhaps this explains their bias. I'm sure they think featuring an old white guy surrounded by a diner full of other older white people is a sure, a non-risky way of confronting Trump. Actually, though, I'd argue that it is the riskiest bet they can make. Given the fact that, at least since 1980, older white people vote Republican by between 10 percent to 20 percent more than they vote Democratic, what does it mean to pitch your entire response to them? Your choices are: Ds want either less of them to vote, to convince them to vote D., or finally, you outflank them. The first option is absolute. You absolutely want to discourage them. It is thus not identical with the third option, which is that you dilute their voting power

heidegger's naziism, locke's apology for slavery

The Magazine Litteraire had a nice dossier about Heidegger last month, heralding, I suppose, the translation of Heidegger’s Black Notebook into French. Those who keep up with those things will remember that the notebook is full of pro-Nazi, anti-semitic remarks, and continues in that vein even after WWII. Heidegger never learned anything. Which of course leaves a problem for those who think Heidegger’s philosophy is important. Is it all, as Emmanuel Faye has maintained for decade, a coded philosophy of fascism? The argument here is pretty much one of critical integrity: it is disingenuous to leave out what we know about Heidegger’s naziism when explicating his texts. Faye, though, goes further, and relates Heidegger’s biggest text, Being and Time, to his naziism as a master explanation of what is going on. Bourdieu did the same thing. One takes a term like Sorge, care, and shows how it it is primarily a political, and not as Heidegger pretends, an existential signifier. In this way,