26 June 2022

Unappetizer Link Sausage Platter

I'll have some further words on how the Court (or at least a majority of its members) betrayed me, betrayed the nation, betrayed their oaths — later in the week. After the vitriol in my draft stops blowing out monitors and keyboards.1 But for now, a built-up-during-the-heightening-suspense platter of link sausages which, however dubious, are far less frightening than the processes (and ingredients) that led to Carson and Dobbs (and Vega and NYSRPA and…).

  • A long piece at the New York Times Magazine manages to be simultaneously perceptive and utterly inept concerning NYC-based commercial publishing's lack of diversity, and how that hurts the Product (and, not incidentally, profitability and its institutional mission, but those are for another time). The perceptive aspects arise from actually following the demographics of the editorial side of publishing — demographics that do tell a disturbing story of white upper-middle-class-nuclear-family privilege. The utterly inept aspects arise from believing that that's where the power in publishing is (and has been since the 1970s)… despite the article's constant refrains that the problem was not with substance but what would "sell."

    A better, more accurate, more perceptive piece would have focused on how one gets promoted and where the power lies in NYC commercial publishing. At least at the top three or four tiers in commercial publishing, getting to be the Publisher (the top job title at an imprint) essentially requires either celebrity status ("Nan Talese Books"), however earned, or a sales record including blockbusters that "proves" skill at sales (and not, one might add, at acquisition or editing; the very coincidence of Ms Lucas's tale is another story in itself). The S&M dorks are even less diversified than the editorial departments… and they're the ones who are in a position to do something creative — something different — to sell creative, different works. (Admittedly, there are other gatekeepers to overcome, too, like the one(s) behind this one at a certain NY-based retail chain — white trustfund kid(s).) The resemblance between the problem with increasing diversity of NFL players, occasional and halting attempts to increase diversity of NFL coaches, and the utter lack of diversity among NFL owners is completely parallel, and par for the entire entertainment industry. H'wood and N'ville are below par, and not in a "good country-club golf score" way.

  • The problems with the lack of diversity2 in publishing are reflected in broader senses, too, especially those that forget that "political economy" was a moral inquiry at its outset: The WTO and its unstated assumption that "immediate profit is necessary and sufficient motive for everything." The WTO actually has done a lot of good… but pretending that there has been no collateral damage — that, in some fields, is arguably overwhelming any good — is a parlor game playable only by the overly comfortable. In their richly-appointed parlors, isolated from the concerns of and contact with the great unwashed (especially furriners). One is reminded of a certain Poe story… and of the recent/current-if-less-alarming pandemic… and baby formula (a problem that, absent the WTO's enablement of universal "just in time" systems, would have been evaded, at least in that form)… and the real causes of climate-change inaction… and tech data brokers… and merchants of death
  • Which, in turn, leads to musings on the origins and nature of power, and of authoritarianism.3 Although I don't agree with significant parts of Prof Keum's article, that's at least in part because I come to the subject from a radically different context — literary studies in political literature and practical, hands-on work regarding totalitarian/authoritarian/overtly-theocratic regimes. There is space for both perspectives, particularly given that Plato ended The Republic by rejecting the depicted society for himself (and, presumably, those like him — the proto-philosopher-kings who reached different conclusions than the accepted norm), which reveals that The Republic was about using thought and orthodoxy as an instrument of power and not about philosophy in the first place — similar to, to cite examples actually available to Plato, fourth-century BCE Palestine, Persia, and Egypt.
  • All of which puts a further twist on well-credentialled "illegals" trying to infiltrate the ICC. Which, frankly, sounds more like something out of a bad spy novel than reality… doesn't it?4

  1. This isn't the first time the leadership of a profession of which I've been a member has betrayed the profession's ideals and very basis. I've been here before, which is just really f*cking great. I can hear the f*cking bagpipes all over the building… and across the Reflecting Pool…
  2. Not to mention laziness and stupidity. Compensation for the S&M dorks in commercial publishing is just as inadequate as that for editorial staff, which leads to entirely predictable distortions in who becomes those dorks, gets promoted from within those dorks, and their tunnel vision. The reflexive undermining of the profit motive is just astoundingly inept, and justified only by the trust-fund-kid/spouse context.
  3. I'm going to admit that I'm familiar with Plato only via translation, and that my knowledge of details of ancient-European/Greek/Balkan culture doesn't extend much past a very good survey course at a very good university and smatterings gathered in other coursework. That said, I'm extremely familiar with multiple translations of the progenitor work… and with Popper's various writings, which tend to prove more than anything else that Olympic-caliber conclusion jumping works best when only one's social circle is in charge of both determining who is allowed to compete in the event and in judging its results. No, I'm not a fan of Popper; the flaws in his reasoning epitomize the leaps from "theory" to "laboratory" to "fieldwork/practical application," and the many stumbles therein. For example, his failure to emphasize that closed societies were epitomized by theocracies centuries before Plato, and to fold that into his understanding of a "closed" society, is itself a fall from Olympus.
  4. That's my story and I'm sticking to it because Reasons that are entirely unrelated to searching for manganese nodules on the sea floor.