Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cultural Masochism and Identity Politics.

The Lively Tradition quotes a lengthy section from a blog post about how much modern society sucks and how alienated we are from one another, etc, etc and soforth.

Robertson Davies says this kind of masochism is a Canadian thing, but UUs love it to.

I don't get it. To pull a quote from the peice:

It's just truculent and wilful to want to read a book, or watch a debate, when real pros have already done that so much better than we can, and are happy to give us really excellent opinions and judgments. Why would anyone want to hear views about the surge, or Social Security, from some friend who's not at all famous, badly lit, unrehearsed, with home-made makeup - or none! - and with some random office or restaurant background and dirty dishes on the table?

Does anyone here actually lack for opportunities to do this? Not to put to fine a point on it, but doesn't umm... the Lively Tradition itself frequently feature political commentary? Because my understanding is that the man who writes it is not a professional pundit.

My friends seemingly can't wait to tell me their political opinions. And the nice thing about living now is that my ownership of a vagina is not necessarily an impediment to my opinions being taken seriously, which it would have been at the time this article romanticizes.

The source article is all about "identity politics" and written by one of those people who has conveniently forgotten that until roughly the Eisenhower administration presidential candidates when not the president himself were chosen in back rooms. Apparently a hundred and fifty years of old white rich guys choosing each other doesn't count as identity politics.

The idea that a representative from an agricultural area will understand farmers and look after them, and a representative from an urban area will do the same for urban dwellers is not a new one, indeed, it's the basic theory the founding fathers had when they designed congress the way they did.

I find this post, and indeed this entire genre of posts, puzzling. I grew up in the age of Nintendo and my favorite childhood toys were these weird little animal figurines my mom brought back from mexico and a stuffed animal of a horse my dad bought me when I was five. I really don't think kids, or adults for that matter, are any less imaginative than they used to be.

Judging by, oh, the internet, creativity and communication are alive and well.

To me, it's sort of ridiculous. It invites parody "Two hundred years ago, we had a family doctor who made housecalls who could medicate our problems with leeches. Now we have the cold indignity of MEDICINES to ease our pains instead!"

Goodness, y'all....

So, what's the appeal of these articles by old white guys (aren't they all by old white guys) about how great life was a few generations ago?

I see it as life today offers us extra choices. If making music with your friends, community theater, or talking politics is your thing, lots of people do those things and people who really love those things are easier to find than they've ever been.

But if it isn't your thing, you have other stuff that you can do.

I don't enjoy making music. A nightly singalong with my family sounds like hell for me. Playing ball in the park on more than an occiasional basis wouldn't be much better.

Is it so wrong that I and other people who feel the same way have other options for amusing ourselves?

who in writing this has indirectly defended Paul Krugman. Grr.


Boy in the Bands (Scott Wells) said...

While I'm usually in LTs choir amen-ing along, I think you have this one squarely.

Anonymous said...

As one of the elder UU bloggers, I can safely say that this longing for the good old days goes back decades (I recall back in the 1970s, somebody saying it began with the ancient Greeks). Nostalgia is a powerful thing --