curbing expressive instincts in order to be worth


This web site is suffering from some sort of server problem. Or something. I have had difficulty getting it to come up at all a couple times this week. If you’ve had problems and have checked again, thank you! It’s not clear what’s causing this. My daughter, Sarah, said she would check to see if the host has had some problems.

I have been thinking about the concept of gentrification. Sarah Schulman develops this idea thoroughly in The Gentrification of the Mind. First, she provides an earlier reference of the use of this word than the Oxford English Dictionary.  She mentions in passing that Ruth Glass coined the word. I googled it and did find some confirmation. The book is probably Aspects of Change by the aforementioned Glass and was published in 1964. The earliest use of this word to talk about the process of a changing neighborhood that the OED gives is 1972 in a novel by Michael Innes. It took me a while to figure that Michael Innes is a pseudonym… the OED credits the book with the real name of the author: J. I. M. Stewart. I got so distracted by this search that I ended up ordering a novel by Innes/Stewart since my reading told me he was strongly influenced by C. P. Snow. I have read all of C. P. Snow and enjoyed it. 

Anyway, Schulman makes a good case that the concept of a gentrified neighborhood, i.e. one in which the original diversity was replaced by a  homogenous richer population, is a clear symptom and metaphor for much of what’s fucked up in our society and the world. I do not mean to diminish Schulman’s basic thrust which is to restore the history of AIDS and to raise awareness of what is going on now that is so destructive to people in the world by systematic repression and the use of banality, consumerism, and lies to further the economic interests of the people who control the strings of the world.

As far as I am concerned she is electric in the way she lays this all out.

But she also points to the larger idea that it’s a sort of gentrification when we dilute the real life we are given by capitulating to a life of consuming and blind self-centered ignorance.

Jes sayin’

1. Repressive Tolerance, by Herbert Marcuse (1965)

I’ve heard of Marcuse, but Schulman quoted him about the way a certain kind of tolerance perpetuates rather than challenges a bad situation. This emphatically makes me think of living in bland old Holland Michigan where the good people are tolerant to a fault and the only ones who seem at all angry are standing in line to get free food and stay at the mission.

Anyway, I copied the above to my Kindle and am reading it.

Here’s Schulman’s telling mention of Marcuse:

Schulman cites “Marcuse’s insight into what he called ‘repressive tolerance,’ in which communities become distorted and neutered by the dominant culture’s containment of their realities through the noose of ‘tolerance.’ The dominant culture doesn’t change how it views itself or how it operates, and power imbalances are not transformed. What happens instead is that the oppressed person’s expression is over-whelmed by the dominant person’s inflationary self-congratulation about how generous they are. The subordinate person learns quickly that they must curb their most expressive instincts in order to be worthy of the benevolence of this containment.” p. 50

2. Prosecution Deferred, Justice Denied –

Criminal prosecution of corporations, that is.

3. A Poor Apology for a Word –

 The word is “sorry” and this is especially about Brits’ use of it.

4. A Disappearing Spy, and a Scandal at the C.I.A. –

What a story! Reminds me of Le Carré.

5. With Affordable Care Act, Canceled Policies for New York Professionals – NYT

Republicans bluster on and do not convince me there are significant problems with ACA. This article, however, does. People who were on group insurance now forced to get individual. Bad idea even though I understand the thought process that designed it into the law.

6. Rights Advocate Is Indicted in China Over Role in Campaign Against Corruption – NYT

China is such a weird blend of governmental procedure. This looks totalitarian.

7. Teenager’s Sentence in Fatal Drunken-Driving Case Stirs ‘Affluenza’ Debate –

See my discussion above of gentrification.

8. How To Make Friends When You’re ‘Old’

Fun little article linked by daughter Elizabeth on Facebooger. Thanks!

9.Colin Wilson, Author Acclaimed at 24 for ‘The Outsider,’ Dies at 82 –

Have read some Wilson. He sounds as crazy as I thought he was. Also a bit delusional about his own importance and ability.

10. Belgian Senate Votes to Allow Euthanasia for Terminally Ill Children –

Only in cases of extreme physical pain. Probably a good idea.


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