Pampered slaves, TED Takedown, Grudge nursing

  1. Pampered slaves don’t go on strike
  2. TED: Middlebrow Megachurch Infotainment
  3. Nursing a grudge

Heavy snow followed by brutal cold equals “emergency traffic only.” Before I get to work on what I brought home in anticipation of this, a few of my morning encounters.

1

Reflecting on How Green Was My Valley and massive construction work around him at his college campus, Anthony Esolen writes, inter alia:

They work hard, at work that takes its toll on their bodies, in all seasons and in all but the filthiest weather.  Yet I doubt that the feminist professor – and most professors are feminist – gives them a passing thought.  Without men like them, we would have nothing; nothing to eat, no metal for our cars, no bricks, no stone, no wooden planks, no houses, no roads, no public buildings, no clean running water, nothing.  They do work that is more than desirable.  It is absolutely necessary.  I teach English poetry; that is not necessary.  I will not trouble to discuss sociology, feminist or otherwise.

We might be apt to shrug and say, “What of it?  They are well paid,” and some of them are.  Some of them are not, but then, don’t college graduates deserve to make more money than workers on the land, of the land, and under the land?  And they do have the vote, don’t they?  Everyone gets one vote, and that makes everyone equal.

Well, no, it doesn’t, no more than if everyone enjoyed the privilege of spitting once into a national spittoon.  We are looking for equality as men, so that we can say what Mr. Morgan said.  And the common laborers enjoy no such thing.  They have virtually no influence over what their children are taught in school, and how.  Their sons are regularly badgered for being boys, and bullied into ingesting drugs to conform their boyish natures to the ideal of mannerly servility.  They are not pillars of their communities, because there are no more communities; there are political abstractions called “towns” and “cities,” whose leaders take their cultural instructions from the media and from the national government, and who themselves are less and less likely to have grease under their fingernails or freckles of carbon in their faces.  They are not the masters in their own homes; the effeminate vices peddled by their “betters” have seen to that.  They are likely to have fathered children out of wedlock, or to have been divorced, sometimes with good cause, far more often without.  They ingest the poisons peddled by mass entertainment.  Their sons surf the internet for porn, get fat, wear their pants around their thighs so as to look like dwarfs stretched on a rack, can’t dig a post-hole or sing a hymn, and are given comic books in school instead of Moby-Dick.  Our need for these fathers is total, yet their authority is minuscule even in their own localities, and their influence upon national politics is zero.

If such men ever took it into their heads to strike, not against the owner of the coal mine, but against their masters in the media, the classrooms, the board rooms, the state capitols, and Washington, who knows what might happen?  We might have a republic again.  But I’m not holding my breath.  A John Dickinson, mild-tempered though he was, would be at a loss for words to fathom the depth of our servility, both moral and political.  What, after all, were a couple of pence on a bag of tea, compared with thousands of unread pages managing every facet of medical treatment for three hundred million people?  Slaves do sometimes rise up.  Pampered slaves, never.

(Anthony Esolen, There’s Equality, and There’s Equality)

2

I’ve enjoyed quite a fewTed talks in years past, but I rather quickly lost my taste for them, never analyzing why.

I can’t honestly say that “Benjamin Bratton has put my feelings into words,” but his words ring true and should cut pretty close to the bone for TED promoters, assuming they have actual consciences:

So what is TED exactly?

Perhaps it’s the proposition that if we talk about world-changing ideas enough, then the world will change. But this is not true, and that’s the second problem.

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I’ll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.

The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realisation, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I’m sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront.

Capitalism in theory is rocket ships, nanomedicine, and Bono saving Africa.

Actually existing capitalism means Walmart jobs, McMansions, people living in the sewers under Las Vegas, Ryan Seacrest … plus – ecological devastation, government spying, crappy public transportation and for-profit prisons.

Our options for change range from basically what we have plus a little more Hayek, to what we have plus a little more Keynes.

Keep calm and carry on “innovating” … is that the real message of TED? To me that’s not inspirational, it’s cynical.

In the US the rightwing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality … other constituencies have TED.

(Benjamin Bratton, We Need to Talk About TED?, a TEDx talk transcript) As often is the case, I’ve pulled only a sampling. This as a well-crafted take-down on many points I haven’t touched.

3

I have written before (e.g., here) about forgiveness. William Doino at First Things here visits it as well, with the emphasis, as was mine, on giving it, not receiving it.

In her moving novel Gilead, Marilynne Robinson’s lead character writes: “I have always liked the phrase ‘nursing a grudge,’ because many people are tender of their resentments, as of the thing nearest their hearts.”

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.