12 January 2016

Return of Lovechild of Internet Link Sausages

First platter of sausages in a while...

  • A long, interesting review essay at NYTM on the "authenticity" problem in sociology also uncomfortably echoes — at approximately 0.38 (p < 0.70) removes — current arguments going on in various communities in fiction (literature). "Who may speak for whom?" is, indeed, a central question. The antiintellectual undercurrent in the question, though, is as much of a problem as anything else: A de facto requirement to undermine one's very data through overt apologia of positionality implicitly distrusts both the writer and the writer's audience; it proclaims that nobody is smart enough to understand that the data is imperfect and the conclusions drawn from it are conclusions and not fact, regardless of the rhetoric involved. It is, in short, a genteel bigotry of its own — one that denies the validity of research, in a biting-the-hand-that-feeds-one sort of way.

    And it leads to a much more darkly disturbing question in fiction: How does positionality properly manifest itself in an explicitly counterfactual work — even an explicitly counterfactual work that includes substantial factual material? I don't have an answer... but smugly arch exclusion of voices of insufficient "authenticity" sounds far, far too much like pretending that Dr Charles Drew was not a research physician because his background was not sufficiently authentic. Equality and sensitivity do not mean "I get to be the abusive senior fratboy running the hazing rituals now!" There's a huge distinction between acknowledging possible flaws and treating the (largely inherited) basis for some of those flaws as disqualifying one from even expressing an opinion... and the circularity and irony of such courtesy stigma should give the intellectually honest a great deal of discomfort. I'm not sure I know a right way, but excluding voices and evidence is surely wrong. (And the less said about so-called "journalistic standards" in this context, the better; one wonders how many journalists understand that their investigative standards are a direct result of eighteenth-century libel law in England, which in turn was almost exclusively a concern of the white male protestant upper- and upper-middle classes.)

  • RIP Ziggy Stardust David Bowie. I was never an ardent fan, or even really much of a fan... but on grounds of taste more than of substance (well, except for the quasidisco and arch dance music, which was on a substantive basis), and I knew the difference between the two even back in the mid-70s. But I don't have enough East Coast urban authenticity to make that sort of distinction, and my positionality is suspect...
  • Meanwhile, The New Republic is up for sale. Again. <SARCASM> Maybe — just maybe — treating the staff humanely might have allowed a sustainable change. Maybe some Bowie bonds would help fund things for a while, too. </SARCASM>
  • An increasingly difficult question in IP law — especially as it relates to the 'net — is deceptively easy to state: Where does infringement occur? It matters a great deal, because that affects both the substantive law (e.g., if the infringement "occurs in" the US, the First Amendment comes into play) and procedure (jurisdiction, rules, etc.) necessary to resolve any dispute that can't be dealt with directly.