Smart people saying smart things

Abby Norman: “Why I Stopped Telling”

I stopped telling the stories of my most resilient kids, because I realized that people were getting the impression that because some of the kids were rising above their circumstances, it was okay to blame the rest for not being able to do the same.

I stopped telling the stories of my church donating cases of paper to my school, because I don’t want anyone to get the impression that it is ever okay for a school in America to run out of paper in October. The church should absolutely meet the needs of the poor, but the church shouldn’t have to supply copy paper for an entire school because the system is broken.

I stopped telling the stories of my most brilliant teaching, my most inspired ideas, because I did not want someone to get the impression that if I was just brilliant and inspired all of the time, I could save my kids.

Equally Blessed: “Prayers for Benedict, Hopes for His Successor”

We pray for a pope who is willing to listen to and learn from all of God’s people. We pray for a pope who will realize that in promoting discrimination against LGBT people, the church inflicts pain on marginalized people, alienates the faithful and lends moral credibility to reactionary political movements across the globe. We pray for a pope who will lead the church in looking the sexual abuse scandal squarely in the eye and make a full report on the complicity of the hierarchy in the sexual trauma inflicted on children around the world. We pray for a pope who is willing to make himself vulnerable on behalf of the voiceless, the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed.

Garry Wills: “New Pope? I’ve Given Up Hope”

Jesus, we are reminded, said to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” But Peter was addressed as a faithful disciple, not as a priest or a pope. There were no priests in Peter’s time, and no popes. Paul never called himself or any of his co-workers priests. He did not offer sacrifice. Those ideas came in later, through weird arguments contained in the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews. The claim of priests and popes to be the sole conduits of grace is a remnant of the era of papal monarchy. We are watching that era fade. But some refuse to recognize its senescence. Such people will run peppily up, like Charlie Brown, to the coming of a new pope. But Lucy, as usual, still holds the football.

Paul Krugman: “Raise That Wage”

It’s important to understand how the minimum wage interacts with other policies aimed at helping lower-paid workers, in particular the earned-income tax credit. … The tax credit … is also good policy. But it has a well-known defect: Some of its benefits end up flowing not to workers but to employers, in the form of lower wages. And guess what? An increase in the minimum wage helps correct this defect. It turns out that the tax credit and the minimum wage aren’t competing policies, they’re complementary policies that work best in tandem.

Brenna Clarke Gray: “Stop Apologizing for What You Like to Read”

You should not apologize for what you like to read. The person you are apologizing to can only fit into one of three categories:

1. He or she shares your joy.

2. He or she doesn’t give a good goddamn.

3. He or she thinks less of you for what you read in which case don’t apologize to that person because he or she is clearly a douchebag who doesn’t deserve your obeisance.

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  • AnonaMiss

    The first link points to an empty blog. Typo, perhaps?

  • Brenna Clarke Gray: “Stop Apologizing for What You Like to Read”

    I think this is quite valid. There are books that some people will go “ew” over, and there are some books that broadly should be condemned on the basis of the implications of the writing involved (Hitler’s Mein Kampf being the notable example, but Mao’s Little Red Book has a cult following among some Western Communists in particular), but the vast majority should be celebrated as part of the diversity of knowledge available to all who can take part of that diversity. :)

  • mud man

    Not sure it’s a good thing to be called Stone. Peter felt that he had to give up feeding the folk in order to preach the gospel. Jesus *told* him to “feed my sheep” but he got carried away by people in the street who only wanted his shadow to fall on their infirmities. The whole thing got off to a bad start. Makes you wonder why God thinks we *need* a church, but there you are, and personally I like my Sundays.

  • Cathy W

    And even so, there’s a distinction to be made between reading Mein Kampf because you think it’s the most awesomest book ever, and reading it because it’s an important book whose terrible ideas nevertheless went on to have huge impact on our history… the answer is not to say “don’t read this”, but “if you read this and think it’s a great idea, perhaps you need your perspective recalibrated, and meanwhile thank you for alerting me to the high likelihood that you’re a reprehensible human being”…

  • Fusina

    I love the church sign epic fails. Some of them got me to thinking about churches, and cathedrals, and buildings that go almost unused during the week, and I started thinking about money usage. I attended a church that was given a gift of a large acreage, on which they thought to build low price housing for seniors. They did not do this, as a mall moved into the area and purchased a great deal of the acreage from them to build a mall, far more than would have been realized from the senior housing.  This was the church committees decision, and fiscally it was a very smart decision, but sometimes I wonder if it was the right decision. I mean, all those cathedrals in Europe, and while we are at it, I’ve been to the National Cathedral and it is gorgeous, but what if the energy and effort to build them had gone into building something similar and as artistic for people to live in? Maybe build a big room for common worship, and lots of suites for people to rent out? Wouldn’t that be a much better use of the space? I’m sure that there are lots of flaws and problems with this, but–well–I was just having a “pipe dream”.

  • SisterCoyote

     People who argue that raising the minimum wage is a bad thing… tend to be people who either never had to live on it, or have not had to live on it in a very, very long time. But the part that really bothers me is that these tend to also be the same people arguing against food stamps, welfare, and any other kind of aid. It’s the same paradox with people who argue against unions. If you want to talk about how we shouldn’t need unions because there should be strong governmental worker protection, and enforcement of such… sure, go ahead. But you can’t slash worker’s rights with one hand, and slash unions with the other. That doesn’t work.

    It’s the same with the minimum wage, with food stamps, with welfare, with health care. The fact is, people do have to live on minimum wage. A lot of people. You can’t get rid of that fact. You can argue that people shouldn’t have to, and try to institute programs that help those people, make it possible for them to have enough money to take care of their kids despite making less than a living wage. Or you can argue that a wage should be a living wage, and try to raise the minimum wage so that people don’t need as much aid from the government.

    BUT YOU CANNOT DO BOTH. That’s fucking inhuman.

    (Totally unrelated, but Fred, thank you for recommending (somewhat indirectly) Breaking Bad on this site. My brother, sister, step-brother and I have been watching it, due to recommendations from him, our step-sister, and you combined, every weekend that we’re all in the same house. Several episodes at a time, which is probably bad for mental health and tends to leave me with a splitting headache, but always seems to be worth it. We just caught up to the end of Season Four, just in time, as I’m leaving home semi-permanently in two days, and dead silence reigned in that room, as we all stared dumbstruck at the screen, each other, and back at the screen, for about two straight minutes. It’s been awesome, and we plan on watching Season Five together via Skype or somesuch. So – thank you, to you and all commenters who have also recommended it, and for real guys, if you haven’t seen this show, you should, it’s flipping awesome.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s “fucking inhuman” to simultaneously argue that minimum wage should be a living wage and that people who make minimum wage should have government support to make it possible to live on minimum wage? Why? We should only need one of the two, yes, and of the two I prefer the first, but why is it “fucking inhuman” to argue in favor of both? Did you leave a bit out of your argument?

  • Now, granted, I wasn’t there to see it myself, but from what I have read, the vast majority of the medieval cathedrals in Europe took hundreds of years to build and employed hundreds of people in the building of them.

    They may not have ended up providing housing directly, but they did keep food on the table for and a roof over the heads of a lot of people for a long time.

  • SisterCoyote

     Ahhh! Yes, I must have. I’m so sorry. I meant that it is inhuman to argue that we need neither. That you cannot take away government aid AND lower/freeze/remove the minimum wage. That you cannot take away government-enforced workers’ rights AND weaken or remove unions.

    Definitely not that you can do neither. Very sorry – should’ve clarified.

  • I know the wording is a little odd, but I’m pretty sure the argument was that it’s “fucking inhuman” to argue AGAINST both.

  • SisterCoyote

     No worries. Thank you for catching it! I hate when I accidentally turn into a frothing libertarian overnight.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought that’s what it was. Thank you for clarifying.

  • Jim Roberts

    While I agree in an academic sense that you shouldn’t apologize for reading a particular book, there’s something to be said for apologizing for reading a particular book in the wrong way, when and where you allow that incorrect reading to negatively impact the lives of others.

  • Hexep

    I will totally think less of people for what they read, or how they otherwise amuse themselves privately. The human being is a creature of nobility and grace, capable of great reason and creativity! The human being can create great treasures and do great things! What a sin it is, to squander oneself on mediocrity and the consumption of mediocrity!

    I am a man of many and multivaried guilty pleasures, but at least I have the onus to feel guilty about them and keep them secret, hide them away, diminish them. If anyone asks, I only cop to my love of great things, and the production of great things, or at least things climbing towards greatness.

  • Unfortunately, no.  It doesn’t look that way.  The words Fred quotes only show up in links to the place Fred links to.  It looks like the blog itself has ceased to be or something.

  • AnonymousSam

    Eww, hopefully that’s not contagious!

  • And, interestingly, the blog was active as recently as five hours ago, as of this comment.  So four hours between the most recent post on that blog and AnonaMiss finding the blog empty.

  • Edo

    You say “inhuman” as if dehumanization were a bug, not a feature.

  • Carstonio

    My answer to Equally Blessed is that prayer alone won’t produce a pope who fights for the marginalized and oppressed. Large organizations are primarily about their own preservation, and any change probably has to come from the bottom up. 

  • Lliira

     What a sin it is, to squander oneself on mediocrity and the consumption of mediocrity!

    Oh blah. Expecting everyone to live their lives in the constant pursuit of Art and Truth and Beauty is expecting the impossible, besides being annoying. And guilt about anything that does not hurt other people is only beating yourself up for no reason. Unless you get a thrill out of it, in which case, carry on, but don’t pretend it makes you a better person than the rest of us.

  • christopher_y

    But you can’t slash worker’s rights with one hand, and slash unions with the other. That doesn’t work.

    Oh it works all right. It’s class war, that’s what it is. The corporate panjandrums are always waging class war, all the time. But when people try to fight back they start whining that it’s unfair.

    “This animal is very nasty; when attacked it defends itself.”

  • Carstonio

    Uh, I doubt that Hexep meant for hir high-flown language to be taken literally…

  • Context matters when it comes to what you’re reading. 

    A few years ago, I decided I was going to try reading some of “the classics”, and I started with Lolita. I picked it up at the bookstore, wandered around until I found an open chair, and started reading. It wasn’t until a bit later that I realized I had wandered next to the children’s section, at which point I awkwardly got up and left.

    I tried reading more of the book when I arrived early for a training session at a local firehouse community room. Sitting in my car, parked near the firehouse, I got a good chapter or two in before I realized I had parked across the street from a grade school. At which point I closed the book, and put it in the glove box.

    The troubling thing about certain pieces of art is not reading them, but mis-reading them. The narrator of “American Psycho” is not a character to be emulated. Roarchock of “The Watchmen” is not a heroic figure in any sense. And no one should read “Lolita” unless they understand that the narrator is not reliable. 

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, I hear that’s what happens when you fall asleep in front of the TV and it’s turned to FOX. Subliminal messaging. *nods* Yup.


  • Hexep

    In order to explain myself, I’m going to go on a slightly round-about, circuitous course. Do you mind?

  • Madhabmatics

    watch out i’m about to post an entire chesterton essay

  • Madhabmatics

    One of the strangest examples of the degree to which ordinary life is
    undervalued is the example of popular literature, the vast mass of which
    we contentedly describe as vulgar. The boy’s novelette may be ignorant
    in a literary sense, which is only like saying that a modern novel is
    ignorant in the chemical sense, or the economic sense, or the
    astronomical sense; but it is not vulgar intrinsically—it is the actual
    centre of a million flaming imaginations.

    In former centuries the educated class ignored the ruck of vulgar
    literature. They ignored, and therefore did not, properly speaking,
    despise it. Simple ignorance and indifference does not inflate the
    character with pride. A man does not walk down the street giving a
    haughty twirl to his moustaches at the thought of his superiority to
    some variety of deep-sea fishes. The old scholars left the whole
    under-world of popular compositions in a similar darkness.

    To-day, however, we have reversed this principle. We do despise vulgar
    compositions, and we do not ignore them. We are in some danger of
    becoming petty in our study of pettiness; there is a terrible Circean
    law in the background that if the soul stoops too ostentatiously to
    examine anything it never gets up again. There is no class of vulgar
    publications about which there is, to my mind, more utterly ridiculous
    exaggeration and misconception than the current boys’ literature of the
    lowest stratum. This class of composition has presumably always existed,
    and must exist. It has no more claim to be good literature than the
    daily conversation of its readers to be fine oratory, or the
    lodging-houses and tenements they inhabit to be sublime architecture.
    But people must have conversation, they must have houses, and they must
    have stories. The simple need for some kind of ideal world in which
    fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and
    older than the rules of good art, and much more important. Every one of
    us in childhood has constructed such an invisible dramatis personæ,
    but it never occurred to our nurses to correct the composition by
    careful comparison with Balzac. In the East the professional
    story-teller goes from village to village with a small carpet; and I
    wish sincerely that anyone had the moral courage to spread that carpet
    and sit on it in Ludgate Circus. But it is not probable that all the
    tales of the carpet-bearer are little gems of original artistic
    workmanship. Literature and fiction are two entirely different things.

    Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity. A work of art can hardly
    be too short, for its climax is its merit. A story can never be too
    long, for its conclusion is merely to be deplored, like the last
    halfpenny or the last pipelight. And so, while the increase of the
    artistic conscience tends in more ambitious works to brevity and
    impressionism, voluminous industry still marks the producer of the true
    romantic trash. There was no end to the ballads of Robin Hood; there is
    no end to the volumes about Dick Deadshot and the Avenging Nine. These
    two heroes are deliberately conceived as immortal.

    But instead of basing all discussion of the problem upon the
    common-sense recognition of this fact—that the youth of the lower
    orders always has had and always must have formless and endless romantic
    reading of some kind, and then going on to make provision for its
    wholesomeness—we begin, generally speaking, by fantastic abuse of this
    reading as a whole and indignant surprise that the errand-boys under
    discussion do not read ‘The Egoist’ and ‘The Master Builder.’ It is the
    custom, particularly among magistrates, to attribute half the crimes of
    the Metropolis to cheap novelettes. If some grimy urchin runs away with
    an apple, the magistrate shrewdly points out that the child’s knowledge
    that apples appease hunger is traceable to some curious literary
    researches. The boys themselves, when penitent, frequently accuse the
    novelettes with great bitterness, which is only to be expected from
    young people possessed of no little native humour. If I had forged a
    will, and could obtain sympathy by tracing the incident to the influence
    of Mr. George Moore’s novels, I should find the greatest entertainment
    in the diversion. At any rate, it is firmly fixed in the minds of most
    people that gutter-boys, unlike everybody else in the community, find
    their principal motives for conduct in printed books.

    Now it is quite clear that this objection, the objection brought by
    magistrates, has nothing to do with literary merit. Bad story writing is
    not a crime. Mr. Hall Caine walks the streets openly, and cannot be put
    in prison for an anticlimax. The objection rests upon the theory that
    the tone of the mass of boys’ novelettes is criminal and degraded,
    appealing to low cupidity and low cruelty. This is the magisterial
    theory, and this is rubbish.

    So far as I have seen them, in connection with the dirtiest book-stalls
    in the poorest districts, the facts are simply these: The whole
    bewildering mass of vulgar juvenile literature is concerned with
    adventures, rambling, disconnected and endless. It does not express any
    passion of any sort, for there is no human character of any sort. It
    runs eternally in certain grooves of local and historical type: the
    medieval knight, the eighteenth-century duellist, and the modern cowboy,
    recur with the same stiff simplicity as the conventional human figures
    in an Oriental pattern. I can quite as easily imagine a human being
    kindling wild appetites by the contemplation of his Turkey carpet as by
    such dehumanized and naked narrative as this.

    Among these stories there are a certain number which deal
    sympathetically with the adventures of robbers, outlaws and pirates,
    which present in a dignified and romantic light thieves and murderers
    like Dick Turpin and Claude Duval. That is to say, they do precisely the
    same thing as Scott’s ‘Ivanhoe,’ Scott’s ‘Rob Roy,’ Scott’s ‘Lady of
    the Lake,’ Byron’s ‘Corsair,’ Wordsworth’s ‘Rob Roy’s Grave,’
    Stevenson’s ‘Macaire,’ Mr. Max Pemberton’s ‘Iron Pirate,’ and a thousand
    more works distributed systematically as prizes and Christmas presents.
    Nobody imagines that an admiration of Locksley in ‘Ivanhoe’ will lead a
    boy to shoot Japanese arrows at the deer in Richmond Park; no one thinks
    that the incautious opening of Wordsworth at the poem on Rob Roy will
    set him up for life as a blackmailer. In the case of our own class, we
    recognise that this wild life is contemplated with pleasure by the
    young, not because it is like their own life, but because it is
    different from it. It might at least cross our minds that, for whatever
    other reason the errand-boy reads ‘The Red Revenge,’ it really is not
    because he is dripping with the gore of his own friends and relatives.

    In this matter, as in all such matters, we lose our bearings entirely by
    speaking of the ‘lower classes’ when we mean humanity minus ourselves.
    This trivial romantic literature is not especially plebeian: it is
    simply human. The philanthropist can never forget classes and callings.
    He says, with a modest swagger, ‘I have invited twenty-five factory
    hands to tea.’ If he said ‘I have invited twenty-five chartered
    accountants to tea,’ everyone would see the humour of so simple a
    classification. But this is what we have done with this lumberland of
    foolish writing: we have probed, as if it were some monstrous new
    disease, what is, in fact, nothing but the foolish and valiant heart of
    man. Ordinary men will always be sentimentalists: for a sentimentalist
    is simply a man who has feelings and does not trouble to invent a new
    way of expressing them. These common and current publications have
    nothing essentially evil about them. They express the sanguine and
    heroic truisms on which civilization is built; for it is clear that
    unless civilization is built on truisms, it is not built at all.
    Clearly, there could be no safety for a society in which the remark by
    the Chief Justice that murder was wrong was regarded as an original and
    dazzling epigram.

    If the authors and publishers of ‘Dick Deadshot,’ and such remarkable
    works, were suddenly to make a raid upon the educated class, were to
    take down the names of every man, however distinguished, who was caught
    at a University Extension Lecture, were to confiscate all our novels and
    warn us all to correct our lives, we should be seriously annoyed. Yet
    they have far more right to do so than we; for they, with all their
    idiotcy, are normal and we are abnormal. It is the modern literature of
    the educated, not of the uneducated, which is avowedly and aggressively
    criminal. Books recommending profligacy and pessimism, at which the
    high-souled errand-boy would shudder, lie upon all our drawing-room
    tables. If the dirtiest old owner of the dirtiest old bookstall in
    Whitechapel dared to display works really recommending polygamy or
    suicide, his stock would be seized by the police. These things are our
    luxuries. And with a hypocrisy so ludicrous as to be almost unparalleled
    in history, we rate the gutter-boys for their immorality at the very
    time that we are discussing (with equivocal German Professors) whether
    morality is valid at all. At the very instant that we curse the Penny
    Dreadful for encouraging thefts upon property, we canvass the
    proposition that all property is theft. At the very instant we accuse it
    (quite unjustly) of lubricity and indecency, we are cheerfully reading
    philosophies which glory in lubricity and indecency. At the very instant
    that we charge it with encouraging the young to destroy life, we are
    placidly discussing whether life is worth preserving.

    But it is we who are the morbid exceptions; it is we who are the
    criminal class. This should be our great comfort. The vast mass of
    humanity, with their vast mass of idle books and idle words, have never
    doubted and never will doubt that courage is splendid, that fidelity is
    noble, that distressed ladies should be rescued, and vanquished enemies
    spared. There are a large number of cultivated persons who doubt these
    maxims of daily life, just as there are a large number of persons who
    believe they are the Prince of Wales; and I am told that both classes of
    people are entertaining conversationalists. But the average man or boy
    writes daily in these great gaudy diaries of his soul, which we call
    Penny Dreadfuls, a plainer and better gospel than any of those
    iridescent ethical paradoxes that the fashionable change as often as
    their bonnets. It may be a very limited aim in morality to shoot a
    ‘many-faced and fickle traitor,’ but at least it is a better aim than to
    be a many-faced and fickle traitor, which is a simple summary of a good
    many modern systems from Mr. d’Annunzio’s downwards. So long as the
    coarse and thin texture of mere current popular romance is not touched
    by a paltry culture it will never be vitally immoral. It is always on
    the side of life. The poor—the slaves who really stoop under the
    burden of life—have often been mad, scatter-brained and cruel, but
    never hopeless. That is a class privilege, like cigars. Their drivelling
    literature will always be a ‘blood and thunder’ literature, as simple as
    the thunder of heaven and the blood of men.

  • ReverendRef

    We pray for a pope who is willing to listen to and learn from all of
    God’s people. We pray for a pope who will realize that in promoting
    discrimination against LGBT people, the church inflicts pain on
    marginalized people, alienates the faithful and lends moral credibility
    to reactionary political movements across the globe.

    We all know about Fred’s tendency to use Acts 10 (Peter’s vision from God of clean/unclean) as a basis for welcoming LGBT into the Church.  I believe that is a proper reading of that chapter.  But at my adult ed class between services yesterday, we came across another piece of scripture that can be read that way as well.

    Since it’s Lent, we are looking at a variety of “wilderness” stories, and the one we looked at yesterday was Noah and the flood.  I pointed out that there were at least two stories wrapped up in Gen. 6 & 8, and in one of them God instructs Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals and one pair of unclean.  A few things came out of our discussion:

    1) Noah built the ark;
    2) Noah did not close the door of the ark, God did that;
    3) God called both clean and unclean animals into the ark

    From these three points, the class determined that the story of Noah is a parable and that
    1) It is our job to build the Church;
    2) There will be a time when God puts an end to things (i.e. closes the door), but until then we must leave the doors open;
    3) The Church (the ark) needs to welcome everyone with open doors, those we deem clean and those we deem unclean, by keeping our doors open until God decides it’s time to close shop.

    My prayer is that the new pope will read the stories of Noah and Peter with the understanding that God isn’t concerned with cleanliness, but is more concerned with getting people on the boat.

  • stardreamer42

    I hope this was intended as sarcasm. If it wasn’t, you’re a sad, pathetic creature, judging your entire life by the way you think other people would judge you. And the very saddest part is that you’re probably wrong about that too.

    (And if it was, I think your sarcasm filter needs some adjustment.)

  • That rather reminds me of Ana Mardoll’s piece on liking problematic things. Some of the things we like will be in one way or another … bad. But that doesn’t mean we’re bad to like them. Also, Greta Christina had a post a while ago (I can’t find it now) in which she asked for advice on how to frame non-consent in some erotic fiction she was writing. She said that the fantasies of non-consensual sex were not wrong in themselves, but she was concerned about the best way to frame them to minimise any possible real-world damage.


    Edit: Found it: How do you write about fantasies of non-consent in a way that doesn’t glorify actual, real-world non-consent?

  • vsm

    Not realizing that Humbert Humbert is unreliable means the reader has failed to understand something important, and leaving Rorschach at “badass” suggests one has either missed a few issues or not thought about the character very deeply, but I don’t see how deciding to emulate Tyler Durden is a case of misreading the work. If one happens to share his worldview, surely he’s a wonderful figure to emulate.

  • stardreamer42

    The first article appears to be gone. But based on the quoted material herein, it was describing one of the great fallacies of the Right — the assumption that the extraordinary should be ordinary. That an inspirational story should be inspirational, not to move us to make it more possible for everyone to achieve such things, but as an example of how, if one does not achieve despite hardships, one is simply not trying hard enough and therefore does not deserve achievement at all. 

  • Oh yeah. I’ve watched BB all the way through and OMFG WAT

    that was my expression through S4 and the half-S5 in particular! I can’t wait till it resumes this year. :O

  • Working link for “Why I Stopped Telling”

    EDIT – Ack, she only cross posted like 3 paragraphs, nevermind

  • Michael Pullmann

     The point is that Tyler’s worldview is one of a petulant child.

  • Yep! I was totally thinking of that blog entry by Mardoll but couldn’t remember anything about it besides a hazy recollection of discussing books that could inadvertently convey acceptance of less than desirable social behavior.

  • Guest

    The glovebox, incidentally, is the perfect place for Lolita, since it’s about American travel as well.

    Anyway, I don’t judge anyone for reading something “bad” unless I know the book is full of bad morals (you know, like the Left Behind series) and the reader either approves of the bad morals or shows no awareness of/doesn’t care about the bad morals despite being made aware of those bad morals (which in practice means knowing the other person somewhat and having long conversations about said book, so it’s no snap judgement). If the things you choose to read show that you don’t want to be a better person or are actively making you a worse person, then yeah, I’m going to think less of you. Sorry about that.

  • Carstonio

    Maybe I suspected the sarcasm because I’m used to thinking that my safety and physical well-being depend on others having favorable judgments of me, like a performance review. Personal dislike is the only reason that individuals deliberately harm others for the sake of harming them, as opposed to harm for some personal gain.

    But you do have a point – the sarcasm seemed very subtle, and I re-read the post because it didn’t seem right at first.

  • Madhabmatics

     That’s only a part of it unfortunately.

  • Tricksterson

    Aha!  You’re a were-libertarian!  One of them mustt have bitten you!

  • Hexep

    And yet I have done you a service of surpassing value, serving – to my own dear surprise, to be sure! – as your own personal Jamarat. Well, you’ve got six more, but don’t let me hurry you – just pick up your stones when you’re done. And mop the floor behind you! You’re dripping fluids of every description.

  • Hexep

    Don’t think for a moment that I am not on your side, but I do have to point out – while it’s true that every animal, clean and unclean, is welcomed into the ark, the fact remains that the clean animals came in seven pairs but the unclean came in only one pair. That strikes me as being significant.

  • AnonaMiss

    To me the non-pology/guilty pleasure label is useful primarily when you want to say you enjoy something but don’t want to endorse it – it’s an acknowledgement that your enjoyment of the work comes from the way your personal experiences and tastes interact with the work, rather than from the work itself. 

    Suppose for example that you meet someone who enjoys Manos, the Hands of Fate unironically and without the commentary – maybe ze grew up in that part of the country, and the long driving scenes with panoramas of flat desert remind hir of home. Maybe Torgo’s odd manner of speech is similar to the one hir older brother used for his half-orc barbarian, and that makes her smile. Describing Manos as a guilty pleasure would be that person acknowledging that the movie is objectively a pile of faults, but that ze enjoys it anyway. That has a very different meaning from simply saying that ze enjoyed Manos, and is a world away from saying Manos is a good movie. 
    But yeah, if you’re honestly apologizing about your personal tastes, rather than using an apologetic sentence structure to communicate your acknowledgement that your taste is unusual, you may have some issues you want to work through.

  • stardreamer42

    Something I found elseNet that I think the community here will enjoy: 

  • Hexep

    I think that’s the gist of it. Inspirational stories have happy endings, which suggest that things worked out fine – and yet the whole impetus here is to show that things are not working out fine, that things need to be changed.
    Now, a very gifted storyteller could craft a story that does both; it shows some small victory by the forces of righteousness, or even a great one, such to the point that it shows that while the forces of darkness are yet still a danger (and thus create the imperative to do something), these small victories show that the ultimate victory is, in the long run, still possible (thus being inspirational.)

    But this is a master-level technique. I consider myself one of the finest storytellers I’ve ever met, and even I approach such a double-ended moral with great timidity. It is not easy to get right.

  • vsm

    Well yeah, that’s what us right-thinking leftists would think of his worldview, which is essentially fascist. I don’t think the film (haven’t read the novel) ever makes that point, though. On the contrary, it fully accepts its first premise, namely that life under capitalism, even if you’re part of the middle class, is terrible and alienating. The film’s a bit more ambiguous on the second premise, that men have been feminized (Mealoaf’s character has literally grown a pair of breasts) and must recover their masculinity and a simpler form of life, but it certainly suggests the world is full of men who agree. Full, as in enough to create a terrorist organization with ties everywhere and strong enough to beat the department of justice.

    Granted, the narrator does spend the final act trying to prevent Tyler from destroying modern capitalism, but he fails and the moment the skyscraper comes down is depicted as something awe-inspiring and monumental, implying Tyler succeeded. So, rather than showing him as a petulant child, he’s a charismatic and brilliant guy with a vision that’s embraced by thousands and that probably changes the world forever. If Fincher was going for the former, he would have shown their terrorism as futile, or suggested that there are other ways of making life bearable than fascism. As it stands, the film is mighty impressed by Tyler Durden.

  • The_L1985

     You know what?  I like Chaucer.  I’m not ashamed of liking Chaucer.

    I like Poe, and Whitman, and Shakespeare, and Cervantes, and Homer.  I’m not ashamed of liking them either.

    So why should I be ashamed of also liking Archie Sonic comics, when I have a great appreciation of the classics?

    It’s like saying that simultaneously liking Bach and Lady Gaga is a terrible, shameful thing. People are allowed to like a wide variety of things if they want to.  Not all of us are going to like all of the things somebody else likes, or think that they’re great.  But the only opinion that really matters is the opinion of the person doing the liking.

  • Worthless Beast

    There was a thread on a fan forum I go to all about Guilty Pleasures.  I divided my “Guilty Pleasures” into a list of what the world thinks I *should* feel guilty over but honestly, really don’t, and a list of things I do actually feel a bit guilty for.

    I don’t feel guilty for being in my thirties and loving animation (sometimes animation from the Thirties at that).  I also enjoy the music of U2 and don’t really care what the Internet thinks.  However, I do feel guilty after every time I step into a Teavana because I wind up paying good money for good tea (it feels exhorbitant), and I feel a bit guilty when I go fishing because, while I love the primal sense of it all, I do feel sorry for the fish I kill to eat. (Do it as quickly and cleanly as possible). 

    I’m ashamed of my former Left Behind fandom, but, eh, even something good came out of that because I can understand the riffing here. 

    By the way, in case everyone’s jumped ship on an earlier thread, a “Trixie” wanted to see an old shame short story of mine.  I found it and posted it: 

    A girl left alone after the Rapture.  She thinks the whole thing might be an alien conspiracy.  She just wants her family back.

  • The_L1985

     To me, the significance is that “unclean” sorts are less likely to want to go to a place of worship in the first place. ;)

  • Mein Kampf can be condemned on just stylistic grounds. It’s really poorly written. Only a nazi could like it.