10 July 2017

Unexpected Chunkiness

There's a piece of real meat in each link sausage on this platter. It's just not the piece (or often species) of meat that the respective wurstmeisters think is in there… which is one reason even the sausage-makers don't watch sausages being made.

  • I have to admire the rhetorical strategy of a piece at The Economist that manages to use a semiobscure literary referent in an attack on Labour's "bourgeois dream" but never confronts the fundamental economic failures of the English system (inherited wealth and real-property rights that depend upon factional conflicts in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), let alone the elephant in the room: the Rawlsian original position/veil of ignorance analysis. This seems short-sighted, given that the underlying currents in Lanchester's novel are of injustice more than of personal status per se (instead of as a complex second-order consequence underlying injustice)… or, perhaps, it's just another instance of the question — and the questioner's preconceptions — shaping the answer. The piece is an interesting sub-explanation that sustains some small measure of credibility and further thought, but once one gets outside of Islington (whether by Tube or by living elsewhere) it rather falls apart.
  • Another piece at The Economist also misses the point by failing to get inside the motivation — and Rawlsian subversion — of progressive rock as having continuing value by failing to note who were the leading exponents of progressive rock: Almost entirely musically-inclined public-school boys whose musical ambition was thwarted by the internal politics of the classical-music establishment of the 1960s and 1970s. Prog rock is as much a meritocratic reaction to the facile hypocrisy of "we say we want merit in our orchestras, but really it's merit from the right sort of families spiced with the occasional bit of upward mobility backed by something off-kilter" that one can see around the edges in such too-often-dismissed works as Hilary and Jackie: The prog rock musicians came from a social class in which there was actual place and freedom to practice, which didn't happen in American small-towns or ghettoes and/or European public housing. And the classical music world had its own markers for privilege, in-clubs, factionalism, and so on; the boys at the Charterhouse School sure as hell knew that, including the son of a captain in the Royal Navy (and noted industrialist) and a descendant of the Lord Mayor of London who formed Genesis as much because the acceptable careers mapped out for them by their families did not fit their own ambitions as anything else. And the less said about representativeness in the arts, the better.
  • It's really sad when it takes a columnist who focuses on the fashion industry to excoriate nepotism and celebrity-worship in print publishing, and especially in art-related print publishing. It is not, however, unexpected: The portions of the press that cover "the press" are, to say the least, just slightly handicapped by conflicts of interest, special-snowflakism for the print-based parts of the entertainment industry, the emperor's new clothes, and not-invented-here syndrome.
  • Artists are dangerous. Just ask any immigration lawyer… and, if you can get an honest one into an off-site location over a tasty beverage of choice with no witnesses, ask an immigration official about how foreign artists (and writers and musicians and actors) unjustly take jobs away from locals. Sadly, it doesn't matter much what nation(s)!
  • Renaissance-era memoirists are even more dangerous. Then there's the problem of Samuel Pepys, and of Jonathan Swift, and into the Enlightenment of John Locke, and the distinction between "memoir" and "journal" (let alone the issues raised by satire and parody).