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[VIDEO] Uncommon Knowledge with Justice Antonin Scalia 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia visits Uncommon Knowledge for a wide ranging interview including the living constitution, Roe v. Wade, Congress’ relationship to the court, and to discuss his new book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts

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Jonah Goldberg: Progressives’ Peculiar Sense of Patriotism

Sheer naked panic, from which there may be no return

The best thing Obama can seem to say about the country is that it elected him into office

Jonah Goldberg writes:

…Patriotism for progressives has always been deeply bound up in the role of government and the cause of reform. That’s fine, to a certain extent. But underlying it is the assumption that America as it exists is a problem that needs to be fixed, if not “fundamentally transformed.” And, let’s be honest about it, there were times when progressives had the better part of the argument.

[Read the full text of Jonah Goldberg‘s newsletter here, at National Review Online]

But, culturally and psychologically, what endures is the pious progressive conviction that the government is better than the people it serves, at least when the right people are running it — and that the job of progressives is to bring the bitter clingers up to the government’s ideals, as best they can. The Left and the cultural elite of a hundred years ago were fairly honest about this point of view. From The Tyranny of Clichés:

The Nation ran a whole series of articles under the heading “In These United States” purporting to reveal that Manhattan was an island of sophistication in a vast wasteland of American tyranny-of-clichesbackwardness.

[Jonah’s book, The Tyranny of Cliches, is available at Amazon]

This was the era when it became an article of faith that the artist must hate the society in which he lives, that he must be “a public enemy” in the words of H. L. Mencken, and that the “vox populi is, to him, the bray of an ass.” The writers for the Nation ridiculed what is today called “fly-over country”—which back then was really “train-through country” or perhaps “cruise around country”—with relentless condescension. Chronicling his impressions of Minnesota, Sinclair Lewis lamented that the “Scandinavians Americanize only too quickly!” Perhaps not surprisingly, the South was an object of particular scorn. One writer believed that Mississippi could only be saved by an invasion of civilizing, cultured, missionaries from the North. Another scratched his head to ask what, if anything, Alabama had ever contributed to humanity . . .

All in all, the cultural elite of the 1920s had firmly convinced itself that they were, in Christopher Lasch’s words, “a civilized minority in a nation of Babbitts, Rotarians, and rednecks.”Revolt-Masss

This theme, by the way, is the thesis of Fred Siegel’s Revolt Against the Masses.

[Check out Fred Siegel’s book “The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class at Amazon]

The attitude has evolved since then. Today’s progressives aren’t adherents to the Social Gospel for the most part, and they certainly aren’t eugenicists — but they’re also a lot less honest than their predecessors. Occasionally, someone will let it slip that they don’t believe in, say, the “private ownership of children” or will claim that the only reason liberal politicians don’t do better is because the voters are racists and sexists. Sometimes, they feel free to barf up their condescending bigotry for the South and paint it on the wall. Even the president of the United States has hinted that he favors increased immigration for its deleterious effects on his political opponents. And, once in a blue moon, you get the Democratic Senate majority leader explaining how displeasing he finds the musk of the little people. But for the most part, liberals have to lie about how much they believe they’re better than the country they serve.

[Read the full text of Jonah Goldberg‘s newsletter here, at National Review Online]

colbert-fingers

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO, GOT TO DO, WITH IT?

Simply put, there’s a tension between the desire to change something and loving something for what it is. As I’ve said many times, if you desire something solely for your ability to have your way with it, that is not love; it’s lust.

And for generations, American reformers have argued that there’s nothing wrong with America that being more like Europe wouldn’t fix. Countless leading liberals hate — and I mean hate — the suggestion that America is the best country in the world. Just two weeks ago, I think, I linked to this progressive mind-porn from the opening scene of HBO’s The Newsroom. Stephen Colbert’s whole shtick for the last nine years has been to mock people who love this country too much. Indeed, for eight years under Bush we heard that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” — a profoundly stupid and self-serving bumper sticker of a notion. It’s a very strange understanding of love — and that’s all patriotism is; love of country — that its greatest expression is biting criticism, regardless of said criticism’s merit. For eight years, every calumny and slander imaginable was hurled at Bush and the United States, and whenever anyone pushed back on it, we were told that it was patriotic. We just love our country! Dissent is the highest form of patriotism! Read the rest of this entry »


Mamet Cease-and-Desist Letter Closes Gender-Reassigned ‘Oleanna’ After One Performance

Alchemist-Theatre-Oleanna-bw.

Known for crafting scripts for the stage and screen with maximum authorial command, David Mamet is the last guy I’d count on to “go with the flow” in a dispute about content.

For the Journal SentinelChris Foran reports:

Milwaukee’s Alchemist Theatre has canceled its production of the David Mamet drama “Oleanna” after one performance after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the playwright’s representatives over the theater company’s decision to cast a male actor in the play’s lead female role.

Violating an author’s material to add new chapters in the gender debate would be a non-issue if the author were a dead white male. They picked a live one. Who better to tango with than a famous successful macho provocateur like David Mamet?

Oleanna,” introduced to audiences shortly after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991, centers on the relationship between a professor and a female student who accuses him of harassment and rape.

In Alchemist’s production, which opened Thursday night, Ben Parman was cast in the role of Carol, the student. David Sapiro plays John, the professor.mamet-tall-bw

In a statement issued Friday evening, Erica Case and Aaron Kopec, owners of Alchemist Theatre, said:

“We excitedly brought this story to the stage because even though it was written years ago, the unfortunate story that it tells is still relevant today. We auditioned for this show looking for the best talent, not looking for a gender. When Ben Parman auditioned we saw the reality that this relationship, which is more about power, is not gender-specific but gender-neutral.”

Blogger Ann Althouse posted an item about this, and asks:

Do you think Mamet overreacted? I’d like to hear his point of view. This seems heavy handed toward regional theater, but I assume the license has terms and the terms were violated. Why didn’t the theater seek permission before committing to this path?

I’d like to hear Mamet’s view, too. At this time (the news of the play’s closure was reported in the journal Sentinel less than 24 hours ago) he’s not made any public comments, but I suspect we’ll see something within a few days. I agree with Althouse when she says,

“…It’s specifically all about the male teacher/female student relationship. If it’s about 2 men, it’s a different story. There’s nothing wrong with telling different stories, bouncing off an old text, and any given production can stand on its own merit, but Mamet owns the rights…”

“Oleanna” is ripe for reinterpretation. Gender elasticity is the preoccupation of our time. For talented writers like Kevin D. Williamson, it’s a lively debate topic. (read his Laverne Cox piece if you haven’t yet, exploding with 8736 Comments) For any number of hack journalists, academics, bloggers, and media figures, it’s an echo chamber. Why not theater people, too? It’s easy to see the temptation. Especially with material like “Oleanna“.

But it’s inconceivable that anyone even casually familiar with Mamet’s work could underestimate this author’s seriousness about precision, fidelity, and creative control. Of all the writers to screw with, David Mamet? Really?

Althouse continues…

“…I suspect he’s angry that he wasn’t asked, but I also think he would have said no, it wrecks his story, and isn’t that probably why they didn’t ask?”

I agree, if asked, Mamet would likely have said no, though he might have invited Alchemist to make its case before declining.

But it wasn’t just that Mamet wasn’t asked. The casting choice was concealed until the curtain went up. It was staged for maximum controversy. Read Erica Case and Aaron Kopec’s statement, see if you think it makes sense.

“We auditioned for this show looking for the best talent, not looking for a gender. When Ben Parman auditioned we saw the reality that this relationship, which is more about power, is not gender-specific but gender-neutral.”

Authors and lawyers are inclined to be more specific.

“We stayed true to each of David Mamet’s powerful words and did not change the character of Carol but allowed the reality of gender and relationship fluidity to add to the impact of the story. We are so very proud of the result, of both Ben and David Sapiro’s talent, and Erin Eggers’ direction.”

Writer and director David Mamet speaks about actors Felicity Huffman and her husband William H. Macy at the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The “reality of gender and relationship fluidity”? This is the kind of postmodern academic gibberish that Mamet brilliantly savages in his plays. What they’re essentially saying is, “we reject the author’s reality, and are substituting our reality.” As Williamson says, “facts are not subject to our feelings.”

Not knowing the details of the contractual agreements involved in staging plays, it’s not clear if Erica Case and Aaron Kopec thought they were taking a calculated risk, and expected to succeed? Or expected to fail, intentionally provoking the author, invitng a shut-down, figuring they’d benefit either way? That they went to “unusual lengths” to conceal their casting gambit suggests an attention-seeking stunt.

Violating an author’s material to add new chapters in the gender debate would be a non-issue if the author were a dead white male. They picked a live one. Who better to tango with than a famous successful macho provocateur like David Mamet?

mamet-lower

Welcome to micro-agression theater.

Chris Foran continues…

Dramatists Play Service, which represents Mamet and which gave Alchemist the rights to produce the play, didn’t see it that way. The firm sent the cease-and-desist letter Friday, the day that reviews of the show appeared online and revealed the company’s casting decision — a decision that the company went to unusual lengths to keep hidden before opening curtain.

Read the rest of this entry »


Towards a New Dictionary of Received Ideas

First-rate  by Ace.  (you won’t want to miss the part about the ‘milking bell’)

La Dictionairre d’Idees Reçues

La Dictionairre d’Idees Reçues

Ann Althouse writes of Flaubert‘s La Dictionairre d’Idees Reçues, or “Dictionary of Received Ideas.” A comical, cynical spoof of the Thoughtless Thoughts people are infected with.

This is what I think Jonah Goldberg was talking about in his Tyranny of Clichés.

It’s these automatic thoughts that cling to the brain like parasites that destroy thinking and reason. Rather like, and I don’t think could possibly be a cliché, alien Body Thetans of idiocy that are interfering with the lucid functioning of our own spirit Thetan.

Amusing Ourselves to Death briefly noted the long, long history of Thoughtless Thoughts. In pre-literate cultures, when all knowledge was stored in human memory and recalled by verbal trope, it was useful to have cute and memorable aphorisms, appellations and other received wisdom in the form of canned cliché. Thus all dawns reflexively had rosy fingers, and were you to dig into the ground, you’d find some money rooting all evils.

Although we’ve long since gained the capacity to write and read, we’ve kept many of the Automatic Associations we’ve been taught.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Harms Race: Hate-crime hoaxes and “counter-Trayvonism.”

Associated Press - A memorial for Delbert Belton

By James Taranto

Four “hateful text messages” appeared on the phone of a 16-year-old black student who was running for Student Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, N.J. “We have NEVER and will NEVER have an (n-word) to lead our school,” read one of the messages, according to a report in the Jersey Journal:

The message went on to call President Obama by his middle name Hussein and used a racial slur in referring to Obama, a police report said. “We will never make that mistake again. Drop out right now . . .” it continued, a police report said.

Can you guess where this is going? The Journal reports that the unnamed student “sent the texts to himself, a school official confirmed last week.” (He lost the campaign for president, was elected vice president instead, and eventually complied with his own demand: “A source said he no longer attends the school.”)

This isn’t the only fake “hate crime” to come to light in the past week. Read the rest of this entry »