"The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house," Audre Lorde famously said, but let Clay Shirky mansplain. It "always struck me as a strange observation — even the metaphor isn't true," the tech consultant and bestselling author said at the New Yorker Festival last autumn in a debate with the novelist Jonathan Franzen. "Get ahold of the master’s hammer," and you can dismantle anything. Just consider all the people "flipping on the 'I'm gay' light on Facebook" to signal their support for marriage equality — there, Shirky declared, is a prime example of the master’s tools put to good use.[more inside]
"Shirky invented the Internet and Franzen wants to shut it down," panel moderator Henry Finder mused with an air of sophisticated hyperbole. Finder said he was merely paraphrasing a festival attendee he'd overheard outside — and joked that for once in his New Yorker editing career, he didn't need fact-checkers to determine whether the story was true. He then announced with a wink that it was "maybe a little true." Heh.
While we are still recovering from the trauma that finance capital has inflicted on our public world, a late-capitalist fairy tale manages the pain in the more private and intimate reaches of the sexual daydream. In one version of the story, a wide-eyed mermaid cleverly disguises her essential self in order to win the heart of a prince (The Little Mermaid). In another, a hooker with a heart of gold navigates her way to a happy ending by offering some happy endings of her own (Pretty Woman). Or there’s the sassy secretary who shakes her moneymaker all the way to the corner office (Working Girl). Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper. [NSFW image]
"Although the word “entitlement” fits, it’s been used so frequently as to have become inadequate to capture the preening self-regard, the obliviousness to the damage that high-flying finance has inflicted on the real economy, the learned blindness to vital considerations in the pay equation. Getting an education, or even hard work, does not guarantee outcomes. One of the basic precepts of finance is that of a risk-return tradeoff: high potential payoff investments come with greater downside. But how did that evolve into the current belief system among the incumbents, that Wall Street was a sure ride, a guaranteed “heads I win, tails you lose” bet?"Yves Smith writes an essay on 'indefensible men.'
From their frontpage: "[W]e have no computers, no contact lists, no rolodexes, no desks, and no desk lamps." Those of you familiar with The Baffler, or their book Commodify Your Dissent, know that they are a great source for acute cultural criticism. If this fire deals them a fatal blow, the world will have lost one of its finest publications. (Follow the link for information on where to send donations.)