"The anti-Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith; at the outset he has chosen to devaluate words and reasons. How entirely at ease he feels as a result. How futile and frivolous discussions about the rights of the Jew appear to him. He has pleased himself on other ground from the beginning. If out of courtesy he consents for a moment to defend his point of view, he lends himself but does not give himself. He tries simply to project his intuitive certainty onto the plane of discourse. I mentioned awhile back some remarks by anti-Semites, all of them absurd: "I hate Jews because they make servants insubordinate, because a Jewish furrier robbed me, etc." Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.
If then, as we have been able to observe, the anti-Semite is impervious to reason and to experience, it is not because his conviction is strong. Rather his conviction is strong because he has chosen first of all to be impervious."
Thursday, May 25, 2017
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
“My goal was always to shake people up and also just to confuse the punk rockers,” he told Washington music blog the Vinyl District in 2014. “We did our own thing. GI was never about pleasing the people. We pleased ourselves. And if people were pleased by what we did, then that was just icing on the cake.”
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
David Bowie is not simply the prettiest star—he’s a constellation. No matter which Bowie you first encountered—the orange-haired alien androgyne of Ziggy Stardust, the creepy clown in the “Ashes to Ashes” video, the louche lothario of the Let’s Dance era, or even the guy refereeing Derek Zoolander’s walk-offs—you were instantly disarmed by his style, sophistication, and presence. But Bowie was the rare rock legend whose mythology is defined more by his intellectual curiosities than his cocaine-fuelled debauchery.
The famous parade of personae that defined his astounding 1970s discography represented not just new sounds and aesthetics; Bowie was essentially a human Internet, with each album serving as a hyperlink into a vast network of underground music, avant-garde art, art-house film, and left-field literature. Bowie was the nexus through which many rock fans were first introduced to not just the Velvet Underground and the Stooges and Kraftwerk and Neu!, but also William S. Burroughs and Klaus Nomi and Nicolas Roeg and Ryuichi Sakamoto and Nina Simone. By design, most pop music is a closed loop—a rollercoaster that’s expertly designed for maximal thrills, to make you go “wheee!” over and over again. Bowie envisioned pop as Grand Central Station, the train tracks branching off into infinite new directions.
It’s hard to think of another celebrity artist who was so committed to using his elevated stature to bring transgressive ideas into the mainstream, reshaping it many times over. “Starman,” the glam anthem that made Bowie a bona fide UK sensation in the summer of ’72, wasn’t just some cosmic jive about a visiting space alien; it was the road map for a career spent luring the masses to the fringes and showing them all the weird and wonderful things happening on the other side. Even when engaging in media manipulation—like tellingMelody Maker that he was gay that same year, even as his domestic life suggested otherwise—the effects were real and profound, by making the world feel a little safer for queer kids, while igniting a public conversation about gender fluidity that continues to this day. For Bowie, a vampish visage was a mere front for a deep reservoir of ideas. Even after he ditched the sci-fi costumery to focus more on musical rather than aesthetic experimentation—all while first-wave punks remodeled rock out of his discarded leather scraps and hair-dye—it still felt like he was taking us to unrecognizable places, with his late-’70s Berlin Trilogy serving as the connective tissue between the rock of the past and the electronic music of the future.
Monday, October 5, 2015
Offensiveness is a bad yardstick for the measurement of whether something is allowed to exist or not. ‘Offensiveness’ shifts drastically based on position in a way that sturdier models of ethics do not. It is slippery, the last go-to for people who don’t understand what they’re fighting for or against, people who are deploying language without understanding its context.