The attention of readers is not, she says "a boiled egg" but "an omelet.
September 13, 2016 2:38 PM   Subscribe

On Not Reading by Amy Hungerford [The Chronicle Review] “The activity of nonreading is something that scholars rarely discuss. When they — or others whose identities are bound up with books — do so, the discussions tend to have a shamefaced quality. Blame "cultural capital" — the sense of superiority associated with laying claim to books that mark one’s high social status. More entertainingly, blame Humiliation, the delicious game that a diabolical English professor invents in David Lodge’s 1975 academic satire, Changing Places. ”
posted by Fizz (42 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
[Couple of comments deleted. Yes yes, you didn't read the article.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:50 PM on September 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


I wish she'd gone more into where she gets this stereotype of "cultural capital" and who defines it. Also, who are these unnamed scholars who never discuss nonreading? I haven't met any, and I have a Masters in comparative literature. She names one scholar and then cites the book he wrote on books... not read. There is certainly a set of people who believe in books as cultural capital, but they tend not to be those who have studied literature in much depth.

I eagerly await the day that oral literature finally becomes part of the common parlance and we all realize we're all, every single one of us, telling stories every day of our life. As a recent AskMe wonderfully reminded me of a Camus quote: "Dialogue, which is a relationship, has been replaced by propaganda and controversy, which are both a type of monologue." Relationships are built on shared stories. Stories we share with one another are just as much literature as words printed on dead paper.

I like some of the points she makes, but she's sorrowfully blind to the whole part of literature studies that would answer some of her questions. Such as comparative literature, which when studied/taught well, imparts and even requires an awareness of the effects of colonialism, racism, sexism, etc. in part, for instance, by researching such things as oral literatures.

If scholars do not resist or at least consider critically the call of the market... Again, who are these scholars?? I've never met one and it really weakens her argument. It honestly sounds like a white woman who's never looked past what's marketed to her, complaining that what's marketed to her is restricted. Yes! It is! Go read some poetry by Joy Harjo or go watch an opera (oral literature!) or some puppet theatre or talk with your best friend about your favorite shared experiences. Literature is not a monolith.
posted by fraula at 2:58 PM on September 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


The Bayard book, which as a good contrarian I have read several times and in detail, is much better than this article, which I have also read, though only once while finding it fairly dull. As an even better contrarian than me, Bayard premises the book on the denial that "reading" is possible at all in the way we usually pretend it is, and instead inventories the kinds of not-reading — reading the words and then forgetting most of them, never even really opening the book but having heard about it well enough to fake it, not even knowing of the existence of it, etc.
posted by RogerB at 3:00 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I guess I feel it would be more fruitful if she identified means of locating worthwhile works outside current networks of distribution and review. As she correctly says, we are all, every day, choosing not to read an infinitude of books. Isn't the real issue what that space is cleared for? Presumably, though she does not say so, she has underlying principles concerning what makes a book worth reading. She's not (and couldn't be) aiming for comprehensiveness. What makes reading this particular obscure book a more worthwhile activity than reading Purity? That it's not Purity is true of every other book, that it's not famous is true of most. (And I say this as someone who could not be paid to read Purity.)
posted by praemunire at 3:01 PM on September 13, 2016


she's sorrowfully blind to the whole part of literature studies that would answer some of her questions

Amy Hungerford is a professor of English and dean of the humanities division at Yale University


posted by RogerB at 3:01 PM on September 13, 2016 [18 favorites]


It honestly sounds like a white woman who's never looked past what's marketed to her, complaining that what's marketed to her is restricted.

She's an English professor and dean of humanities at Yale, so if she has a problem, I doubt it's this one.
posted by praemunire at 3:03 PM on September 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Thank you for sharing that. I enjoyed reading it. I like the insight that professionals who have read a novel need to financially justify their time for it, so they review it, which makes the book part of the conversation we're having about literature, whether it deserves to have that place or not.

My own reading has always been pleasingly (to me) haphazard, though I went through a big chunk of the Western canon in undergrad. I know there's no way I could ever read all the worthwhile novels, so I'm happy looking for well-written novels that happen into my path. Is there a library-form of an idiolect?
posted by lazuli at 3:13 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I didn't read the article OR the mod note at the beginning of the thread
posted by Greg Nog at 3:20 PM on September 13, 2016 [15 favorites]


There is a reason we all hang out at MetaFilter and it is this: "the problem of abundance is acute."

and this:

Treated with skill and respect, the mind of the reader — and the collective of many readers’ minds — can contain multitudes.
posted by chavenet at 3:22 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


The part of the article where she explicitly talks about not reading David Foster Wallace is worth sharing:
“My small act of countercultural scholarly agency has been to refuse to continue reading or assigning the work of David Foster Wallace. The machine of his celebrity masks, I have argued, the limited benefits of spending the time required to read his work. Our time is better spent elsewhere. I make this assessment given the evidence I have so far accumulated — I have read and taught some of his stories and nonfiction, have read some critical essays on Wallace’s work, and have read D.T. Max’s biography of Wallace — and without feeling professionally obligated to spend a month reading Infinite Jest in order to be absolutely sure I’m right. If I did spend a month reading the book, I would be adding my professional investment to the load of others’ investments, which — if we track it back — are the result of a particular marketing campaign that appealed to a Jurassic vision of literary genius.”
As much as I'm a fan of DFW, it is refreshing to read about someone, especially an Academic, who doesn't just immediately buy into the cult of his celebrity. That it is ok to say 'No.' and to move on with something else, to champion another work of art.
posted by Fizz at 3:23 PM on September 13, 2016 [24 favorites]


Greg Nog: "I didn't read the article OR the mod note at the beginning of the thread"

It's going to be on that TV you don't have any minute now. (Lodge's Humiliation is the academic version of "I don't watch TV", from the 1970s.)
posted by chavenet at 3:31 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's going to be on that TV you don't have any minute now.

I would respond to this, but I'm afraid I didn't read this comment, either.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


what does alexander hamilton have to say about this
posted by poffin boffin at 3:46 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is certainly a set of people who believe in books as cultural capital, but they tend not to be those who have studied literature in much depth.

Yes. We call them English teachers.

I don't think the question is "whether there is interesting, worthwhile shit in the vast bunch of words humans have transmitted to each other outside the confines of the Penguin Classics." There is.

The question is, our students are going to be force fed some lump of words in order to teach them about their culture, as they proceed through their mandatory education. Should these not be good words? Interesting words? Profound words, maybe? They're only going to get a chunk. Don't we want to make them chew, a bit? Because gnawing away at it should hopefully sharpen their incisors for the rest of their life, no? So how do we pick which words? Penguin, obviously, has its ideas. The Amy Hungerfords of the world, inasmuch as she has any powers in this mortal realm, may by her present praise perhaps force future students to choke down the morsel of her choosing. So how should she choose?

It's true that no one can read everything. But it still seems to me valuable that there might be some stuff practically everybody's read, in order to construct and maintain a healthy culture. It helps us to get at big stuff, if we have little bricks in common. The fox and the grapes, Romeo and Juliet, Gatsby's green light. I read the other day that the aboriginal peoples in Australia have preserved a memory in their stories of the coming of their people to the continent after the last ice age, some of whose details have been confirmed by geologists quite recently. The same story told again and again, passed on, that's culture. Hungerford merely takes seriously her responsibilities as the griot of Yalies....
posted by Diablevert at 3:50 PM on September 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


I make this assessment given the evidence I have so far accumulated — I have read and taught some of his stories and nonfiction, have read some critical essays on Wallace’s work, and have read D.T. Max’s biography of Wallace — and without feeling professionally obligated to spend a month reading Infinite Jest in order to be absolutely sure I’m right.

I've only read about DFW here and there, but this is a completely non-logical argument. The stuff between the two hyphens does not follow as "evidence" from the beginning statement. Which makes me ask two questions:

Why are gatekeeper intellects allowed to write like this, and publicly propagate horrible thinking skills?

What would DFW say about this kind of pseudo-criticism?

Sometimes these professors are just infuriating. How about you cut out the Jurassic logic, in the first place.
posted by polymodus at 3:53 PM on September 13, 2016


What would DFW say about this kind of pseudo-criticism?

Who cares, he was a shitty thinker.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:59 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


polymodus, what is it between thew two hyphens that you find non-logical? The professor states that she has read some of his works, and has taught them as well, and that she feels no need to read more of DFW. I agree that certain works of literature and art are worth passing on from generation to generation, it does indeed help build a culture, but these things should also be challenged. Things do change, literature does evolve. If we just blindly accepted that we should read what the people who came before us told us is worth reading, we'd still be reading works predominantly written by straight white men. By challenging these works, we push our ways of thinking and living forward. Some works of art, some books, are going to be left behind.
posted by Fizz at 4:06 PM on September 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm just jealous that someone could read Infinite Jest in a month. It took me 3.
(But I'm a slow reader)
posted by MtDewd at 4:10 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I read the article* to try and understand the egg metaphor in the title and I still don't

*yeah okay I ctrl+F'd "egg" and read that paragraph, whaddaya want, life is short
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:20 PM on September 13, 2016


"I've only read about DFW here and there, but this is a completely non-logical argument. The stuff between the two hyphens does not follow as "evidence" from the beginning statement. Which makes me ask two questions:"

It does follow.

She has decided to not teach DFW or read further into his catalog, including Infinite Jest, because of the DFW she has already read and the criticism of DFW that she has read.

I found the essay overall pretty decent, if a little thin — the early comments decrying the author's lack of engagement with progressive criticism, in which "who isn't read" is a large going concern, feel a little bit blinkered — while nearly every critic concerned with "the canon" etc. discusses at least implicitly not-reading, her point seems more that it's rare for a renowned critic to value not-reading. Allan Bloom is very concerned with the issue of not-reading, but Hungerford (which is a pretty great last name, apropos nothing) is making an argument that would be alien to Bloom.

It is interesting to contrast the difference between how this is addressed in literature rather than music, where I have more of a background. In music, the investment is lower, but there's so many more albums released than novels each year that it feels like the overall listening universe is much more flat or horizontal — different genres have listeners with different focuses, but breakout hits are more rare and rare, and there's not even a pretense of hearing even a majority of music from any given year. You can essentially spend your entire year listening to new releases without hearing anything that someone else did, all with the same median quality. Books seem more high-risk, high-reward attention wise, and genres are much more impermeable.

But maybe that's just because of the webs that lead my media inputs to me.
posted by klangklangston at 4:20 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


As much as I'm a fan of DFW, it is refreshing to read about someone, especially an Academic, who doesn't just immediately buy into the cult of his celebrity. That it is ok to say 'No.' and to move on with something else, to champion another work of art.

I mean - I honestly feel like I see way more "DFW is overrated" than "DFW is brilliant" these days. But I understand that's kind of the long tail of backlash against the period in which there was an overwhelming amount of approbation for DFW.

(I like the bits of nonfiction I've read and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men but I never read Infinite Jest either.)
posted by atoxyl at 4:23 PM on September 13, 2016


The one element I'm missing from her article that would help clarify things a bit is; what is it she's trying to teach or believes should be taught? Without that the question of what to read is moot as there is no clear goal defined.

By that I mean there can be value in reading the works most discussed since the discussion itself will presumably contain more approaches, criticism, and varieties of opinion and fact on the work and its author than a lesser discussed work would. So if the goal is thought of as broadening the student's critical thinking abilities and accounting for differences in perspective, then that may be a better choice than a relatively unknown work.

If, on the other hand, the goal is more aesthetically oriented, where the professor is prepared to make claims for the work she will back up by example, then perhaps any work she finds impressive will do, though the experience will be harder to verify against other works without some of the comparative context wider discussion could have on that subject. If the goal is simply to teach students to read well and develop their own skills without reference to any other works, then what you choose really doesn't matter as much as long as it suits your interest to teach.

One could go on and list other possibilities or approaches to reading I've seen, but I hope my point is already made.

None of this is to criticize what she is saying, which strikes me as reasonable enough within bounds, its just not clear enough for me what those bounds are, so my reaction to her piece remains somewhat ambivalent.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:29 PM on September 13, 2016


[For anyone interested in discussing their own 'humiliation' with regards to what books they've not read. I've started a discussion over in MetaTalk. Feel free to share yours.]
posted by Fizz at 5:06 PM on September 13, 2016


I mean - I honestly feel like I see way more "DFW is overrated" than "DFW is brilliant" these days. But I understand that's kind of the long tail of backlash against the period in which there was an overwhelming amount of approbation for DFW.

To be honest, I think it's also because the world has moved on. I enjoyed Infinite Jest, but it was published 20 years ago. There's no doubt a lot in it that's still relevant, but it wouldn't be at all unusual if the book had less to say today to college students who weren't even born when it was published, as compared to what it had to say to people who were DFW's more-or-less contemporaries or at least spiritual younger siblings in the late 90s. Even DFW's writing style has inspired so many imitators that most readers aren't going to come to IJ cold. (And yeah, respect the architects and all that, but it's not a failing to prefer to listen to music produced today than to the blues records from a century ago that were its great-great-grandparents.)
posted by No-sword at 5:46 PM on September 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Even DFW's writing style has inspired so many imitators that most readers aren't going to come to IJ cold.

No-Sword, What authors or books would you associate with the post-DFW writing style?
posted by Fizz at 7:16 PM on September 13, 2016


Well, like, as far as novelists go, Dave Eggers, Chad Harbach? I wouldn't call them slavish imitators but they certainly seem influenced to me. I hear there are many others in that category but it's not the kind of novel I generally seek out these days (time constraints) so I won't get into that swamp.

In general I agree with the critics who think of him as a huge influence on and popularizer of the whole casual-but-cerebral, eager friendly lit-nerd thing that is so common on the Web in particular now. Like, it's not fresh to see someone say "Wow. So. Let's talk about Hegel's reception in the 1920s for a minute" any more, it's just one more style, and I think DFW's work played a big part there.

And of course, there's nothing wrong with any of this! Popular, original writers are influential, it has ever been thus. Just seems to me that people who've been reading this stuff their whole life are less likely to have their minds completely blown by DFW's style as such.
posted by No-sword at 7:52 PM on September 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


As an English teacher who hates teaching literature, a lot of this article resonated with me. I may love to read, and may love some of these books, but often I'm assigning a book to my students because the school or the department assigned the books to me. I've taught books that I HATE to students because that's what I had to do.

I also know that more of my students take the "skip the reading, skim the Sparknotes" route than the "faithfully do the reading and think critically about it" route.

I would love to know if there are a huge number of people whose love of reading started from being assigned books to read for a class. I know that's not how I started to love reading. Did I enjoy and learn from many of the assigned books? YES. Absolutely. But I loved reading for YEARS before I was assigned any books.

And it's hard to fight the paradigm of the "traditional English class." You'd be surprised how tenaciously people in authority hang on to that model and force it on the school/department.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:55 PM on September 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


I read the article* to try and understand the egg metaphor in the title and I still don't

I took it to mean: There is not one single correct way to read, but many different possible combinations, many of which will create lovely and surprising and delightful results.
posted by lazuli at 9:05 PM on September 13, 2016


For me the problem is less that there are too many wonderful books to read (i mean I'll never go to space or Antarctica either, "not reading all the books" is relatively easy to accept), but rather that the number of awful or just bland, unoriginal books has surely grown at an equal or greater rate.

As a lay reader I'm not too scared by the risk of missing the boat on the latest literary conversations, but I am scared of wasting my reading on something really awful. (The wasted time isn't as bad as being forced to face what's successful and popular in the world, quality is meaningless, etc etc existential crisis. It's a big risk.)

That said I appreciate her actual main point that only by abandoning the canon can we evolve the canon.
posted by Gravel at 10:31 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Amy Hungerford --
Anybody else remember Metafilter bookclub?
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:08 PM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh right, I watched her lectures on "Blood Meridian"

Metafilter: Of this is the judge judge and the night does not end
posted by thelonius at 2:55 AM on September 14, 2016


I'm engaged in a mad project to read as much Russian literature as I possibly can, in chronological order (I'm up to 1856 and waiting eagerly for Dostoevsky to get back from exile!). It's a very interesting exercise; it both confirms the greatness of the canon (yes, Pushkin and Tolstoy really are that good) and makes me aware of how much wonderful stuff the canon omits (Alexander Veltman has become one of my favorite novelists, and hardly anybody's read his stuff since the 1850s because of a change of taste towards realism and political engagement that was great for the now-famous writers of the 1860s and after, but disastrous for those who worked in what we would now call postmodern styles, following the Cervantes/Sterne/Hoffmann tradition; Gogol himself was in that tradition, but was tendentiously read as a realist, a misreading Nabokov tried valiantly to correct). I started the project wanting to eliminate some obvious gaps in my own reading, things "everybody" (interested in Russian lit) had read but I hadn't; then I graduated to reading things that weren't available in translation so only Russians (and foreign learners like me) knew about them; and finally I reached the stage of reading and appreciating stuff even Russians don't know about (like Veltman). This doesn't give me a sense of superiority, it makes me realize even more strongly that there's far too much out there for anyone to even know about, let alone experience (and another thing that's been brought home to me is the huge difference between the two: to know about an author or work from having read/heard a lot about them has almost nothing to do with knowing them from having actually read and absorbed them). In other words, the phenomenon Hungerford describes is real and her solution is the only possible one—you have to limit your intake one way or another, and it's better to do it consciously and rationally than covertly and guiltily. A good, thought-provoking piece; thanks for posting it!

> Why are gatekeeper intellects allowed to write like this, and publicly propagate horrible thinking skills? ... Sometimes these professors are just infuriating. How about you cut out the Jurassic logic, in the first place.

I'm really sick of this kind of pugilistic reaction to things posted on MetaFilter, and wish we as a culture would grow out of it. If you have a particular objection to a particular idea or statement, by all means state it, but cut out the posturing overstatements.
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on September 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


I took it to mean: There is not one single correct way to read, but many different possible combinations, many of which will create lovely and surprising and delightful results.

yeah but there's way more than one way to boil an egg, too

also once you pass a certain ingredient threshold with omelets they lose their integrity and are hard to cook properly

I don't much care what people read or don't but I do have a lot of opinions about egg preparation
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:05 AM on September 14, 2016


Hmm.... maybe, then, more like -- boiled eggs are all more similar to each other than omelettes are to each other, and we should be striving, as a society, not for boiled-egg-style canonical similarity in our reading lists but instead for more omelette-style diversity?

Or else she wants to start a new "This is your brain on books" PSA campaign.
posted by lazuli at 11:24 AM on September 14, 2016


argh but the base substrate of omelets are more alike than the end results of the various methods of boiling eggs! hardboiled and poached -- both boiled! call you that similar? and what is the "diversity" of omelet fillings that are merely thrown into the omelet instead of fully integrated with it: is it not best likened to tokenism?
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:33 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Odd trans-cultural coincidence: just this week Italian author and journalist Natalia Aspesi publicly outed the hatefulness that ensued her candid admission of never having read Foscolo - her take on the knee-jerkiness is that where once a difference of experience / opinion was granted and potentially treasured or at least scornlessly legitimate, in lieu of meetings of minds and a capacity to share and even change one's own, there is now a prevalence of showdowns, of dogmatic posturings, a normalization of a pervasive rage that's taking hold of opinion and public discourse on continents both old and new.

(Summary and surprisingly MeFi-like comments at Il Post.)
posted by progosk at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think anyone who's read John Williams' Stoner is easily aware that even some of the best white men get left out of the canon, potentially in favor of authors like DFW, who I agree with the professor is highly overrated. Not to mention the zillions of books by women, or people of color, or genre authors, or authors who have only poor English translations, etc. The idea that nope, the canon's got all the best books in it, teaching anything else is political correctness run amok is just... bizarre. Some of the most intense, gratifying books I've read (all considered literary fiction or literary genre fiction) are at the fringes of canon.

I agree that there are some works which are worthwhile to read as a student of culture if they were influential on a movement or a period of history, of course, but DFW should be a chore meant for those who actually enjoy him or those studying his particular niche in contemporary literary fiction.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:25 PM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I should also add that as a student of English literature, the courses that really stuck with me were the courses where the professor took me on a journey into their own research, whether that meant reading minor American Modernist works, or 19th century Gothic, or whatever. Those minor works that opened my eyes to the ubiquity of greatness, the abundance of human passion, are why I appreciate my English degree.

One of the most important lessons I've learned from the study of literature is how deep and wide is the human capacity for artistry, and any curriculum on English literature that doesn't indirectly emphasize that is a bit far afield of the humanities, in my opinion.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:47 PM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I read enough of the article and comments to be able to point out that :

A) It's not English professors and such who study cultural capital, it's sociologists. The term was coined by Pierre Bourdieu.
B) Cultural capital is not "a sense of superiority that comes..." it is knowledge of cultural things (including books but also music, the news, how to behave in different cultural settings (from an art gallery to a mosh pit), pop culture, high culture etc. etc.) that can be used to signal your membership in a particular community or your belongingness in some place.
C) Cultural capital does not just come from high culture, diversity of knowledge is your best bet. Be a cultural omnivore.
D) The author's seeming not to know what cultural capital is, represents a lack of cultural capital in some settings. (Cultural capital is setting specific).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:58 AM on September 15, 2016


I think she's pretty obviously referring to the social circles of high-culture mavens and literary critics, where reading the correct literature is, in fact, a form of cultural capital.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:41 AM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This doesn't give me a sense of superiority, it makes me realize even more strongly that there's far too much out there for anyone to even know about, let alone experience (and another thing that's been brought home to me is the huge difference between the two: to know about an author or work from having read/heard a lot about them has almost nothing to do with knowing them from having actually read and absorbed them). In other words, the phenomenon Hungerford describes is real and her solution is the only possible one—you have to limit your intake one way or another

Well said, lh. There is also another factor - rereading. The late grandmother of a friend used to reread the classics during her last years because she thought they had the most to offer (incidentally, she dug Dostoevsky). Since life & reading experience can change our impression of a book, rereading limits available time even more.

Of course the nice thing about such discussions is that they often make me reread Calvino's Why Read the Classics?

This at least happens among those who consider themselves “very well read.” It does not hold good for young people at the age when they first encounter the world, and the classics as a part of that world.

The reiterative prefix before the verb “read” may be a small hypocrisy on the part of people ashamed to admit they have not read a famous book. To reassure them, we need only observe that, however vast any person’s basic reading may be, there still remain an enormous number of fundamental works that he has not read.

Hands up, anyone who has read the whole of Herodotus and the whole of Thucydides! And Saint-Simon? And Cardinal de Retz? But even the great nineteenth-century cycles of novels are more often talked about than read. In France they begin to read Balzac in school, and judging by the number of copies in circulation, one may suppose that they go on reading him even after that, but if a Gallup poll were taken in Italy, I’m afraid that Balzac would come in practically last. Dickens fans in Italy form a tiny elite; as soon as its members meet, they begin to chatter about characters and episodes as if they were discussing people and things of their own acquaintance. Years ago, while teaching in America, Michel Butor got fed up with being asked about Emile Zola, whom he had never read, so he made up his mind to read the entire Rougon-Macquart cycle. He found it was completely different from what he had thought: a fabulous mythological and cosmogonical family tree, which he went on to describe in a wonderful essay.

posted by ersatz at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


"argh but the base substrate of omelets are more alike than the end results of the various methods of boiling eggs! hardboiled and poached -- both boiled! call you that similar? and what is the "diversity" of omelet fillings that are merely thrown into the omelet instead of fully integrated with it: is it not best likened to tokenism?"

The metaphor seemed to me that you can reduce boiling an egg to a formula — mass of egg, time in water, etc. — that provides pretty predictable results. Making an omelette is a skill that has to be learned, and necessarily incorporates a broader universe of variation.
posted by klangklangston at 11:56 AM on September 22, 2016


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