He That Increaseth Sorrow Increaseth Knowledge: Or, Notes on Meritocracy

This is a great piece but I guess the reason the end disappointed me is that it turns out to be a sardonic, passive-aggressive (not that there's anything wrong with that) reaffirmation of the meritocratic winners' authority, when what I would rather read is somebody's portrait of alternative authorities. So sure, here's a list of reasons I've seen real people be treated as authorities. Andrews's list would be different no doubt but that's precisely why I would have liked to read it....None … [Read more...]

Calendar of Blood: “Holidays”

So since I'm me, I took the time during this Octave of Christmas to watch "Holidays," a horror anthology in which every tale takes place on some sort of celebratory day. It's surprisingly good!The thing that makes the movie so powerful (esp its first half), I think, is that most of the directors/writers took the time to ask what each holiday is actually about. What are the underlying emotions called up by each day--the longings, beliefs, fears, dreams to which each holiday responds? And then … [Read more...]

“The New Ruling Class”: Helen Andrews

on the beginning and middle of the meritocratic era: Last fall, Toby Young did something ironic. Toby is the son of Michael Young, the British sociologist and Labour life peer whose 1958 satire The Rise of the Meritocracy has been credited with coining the term. Toby has become an education reformer in his own right, as founder of the West London Free School, after a celebrated career as a journalist and memoirist (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People). In September, he published an … [Read more...]

As They Liked It: Playing Shakespeare in the Early ’80s

The BBC has this great series, "Playing Shakespeare," in which John Barton leads members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in a series of supposedly-somewhat-spontaneous classes about playing Shakespeare's verse. Herein a few notes to whet your appetite, and then a rant.John Barton is hilarious, first of all. He is perpetually swathed in a baggy sweater, all slumping shoulders and bushy eyebrows, his hair piling frowsily on his head like he forgot it there. And then this glorious rich voice … [Read more...]

“Christmas and Resistance to Slavery in the Americas”: Yesenia Barragan

for the African-American Intellectual History Society: The Christmas season also gave way to the largest slave rebellion in the history of the British Caribbean known as the Christmas Rebellion (or the Baptist War). During ten days in late December 1831 into January 1832, nearly 60,000 slaves (about 20% of the enslaved population of 300,000) led by the black Baptist preacher Samuel Sharpe went on strike and rebelled against plantation owners, demanding freedom and higher wages. According to … [Read more...]

“Unexpected Beauty in the Union Station Metro”: Prince of Petworth

posts: Tymara Walker posts on youtube (thanks to all for sending links):“This is the original recording of the woman (well… me ) singing in Union Station in early December. I’m celebrating new life, life after being a DV survivor, now I’m just victorious! Enjoy your holiday” more. … [Read more...]

“When the Neighborhood Changes”: Matthew Loftus

covers a lot of ground quickly: [Baltimoreans] have good reason to be afraid. Some places are using “artwashing” — the practice of drumming up the art scene in a neighborhood or building to drive out lower-income residents in preparation for higher-income tenants — to advance gentrification. Indeed, much of New Urbanism hinges on “reviving” blighted areas of a city with more upwardly mobile residents, with long-term residents simply not included at least and deliberately opposed at worst. A neig … [Read more...]