New Books Network recently interviewed our own Leslie Dorrough Smith on her new book Compromising Positions: Sex Scandals, Politics, and American Christianity (Oxford University Press, 2019).
Give the interview a listen. (If the media player doesn’t work, access the interview here)
Watching Wimbledon this morning I got a little curious about why a hushed silence is expected (and actually enforced by officials) in some professional sports but not in others. Sure, there’s cheering between the volleys in tennis but, come that moment when the ball is bounced and a serve is about to happen, a hushed silence falls over the crowd.
Ever watch a snooker tournament? A chess match? Maybe golf?
Silence. Continue reading ““Let Me Root Root Root for the Home Team…””
In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, “boy, that escalated quickly.”
I began writing this blog post the day after a video featuring Covington high school students taunting a Native American man went viral. When I returned to the piece a few days later, the story had blown up like few that I can recall in recent memory. The initial narrative, which was clipped from a 2-hour video, posted on Twitter, and seized upon by the press, created the perception that the high school boys had surrounded Nathan Philips (e.g., see this NYT piece), an Omaha elder and activist, sparking outrage across the media spectrum. At the center of all this was the image of a young man in a MAGA hat (pictured below) starring smugly at Philips as he played a drum song (see Leonard Peltier’s explanation of the song here) . Continue reading “On the Tyranny of Individualism: MAGA boy, Media, and the Drum”
The following three-part series provides a first-hand account of one stop on Jordan Peterson’s recent 45-city tour promoting his bestselling book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, with popular political commentator Dave Rubin. In part one I provide some background on the Peterson phenomenon, followed by a detailed account of one of his rallies in part two. Here in part three I offer some thoughts on how we might situate this phenomenon within broader cultural trends, with a tidbit on my own experience sitting in on a few of Peterson’s classes during my undergraduate years at the University of Toronto.
Are there 3 things that I leaned from attending a Jordan Peterson rally, as my title suggests? Perhaps, but in the world of YouTube algorithms it’s all about what gets clipped and what gets clicked.  I’ll leave up to others to determine who “changed” whose life, who got “destroyed,” or whether anything was “calmly dismantled” here–be it feminism, the “radical left,” or Peterson himself. Continue reading “3 Things I Learned from Attending a Jordan Peterson Rally, Part 3”
Like that vestigial organ, the appendix (long thought to have little utility), a car’s turn signals — or what I grew up calling blinkers — seem no longer to have any function, making them a bit of survival, in the classic anthropological sense, from an earlier but now bygone era. For the drivers I mostly encounter here in Alabama seem not to have any need of that little lever over on the left of the steering wheel.
The curious thing, then, is why cars still have them. Continue reading “Sending Signals”
As we have repeatedly argued at this site, how we classify acts tells us much about the world we are trying to create. And among those telling acts of identification are choices to see something as evidence of a widespread structural issue in which many of us are all implicated or, instead, as the unpredictable result of a lone actor with impenetrable motives. We’ve seen debates on this before, of course, and, in light of the mass murder of nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, just two evenings ago, by a white suspect who is now in custody, well…, we’re seeing this debate take place again. Continue reading “Finding the Frames”
Even though there’s reports that this news story, the one that raced around the internet yesterday, is fake, what’s interesting is our perception of how unreasonable North Korean leaders are, making this story seem pretty darned plausible. Continue reading “Freedom of Choice”
I found this interesting pic online not long ago and it occurred to me that the sort of alternative approach to identity being entertained at Culture on the Edge — an approach to identification that structurates and historicizes agency and intention — is likely one that runs counter to the commonsense notion of the individual, of the self, that most of us have, making this idea of the individual itself a social thing. This alternative approach therefore places emphasis on the collective situation in which our idea of the individual comes into existence as a discursive item, as a social, legal, political fiction which helps to make possible the worlds that we take for granted.
Case in point: private ownership is possible only once we have legally defined and distinguished individuals in place.
To entertain such a radically historicized and socialized notion of the self, of identification as a means to signify the self, means that we have to be willing to entertain that we, each of us, are not special, at least not how we usually think of it. Instead, we might consider that we become special to certain people, at specific times, for particular reasons. We thus turn our attention to the strategies of specialization, as an ongoing process and series of discrete practices, rather than seeing its product as a free floating, transcendental value — much like the move from expressing an identity to studying the techniques and sites of identification.
If we insist on thinking of ourselves as unique, as special, as rugged individuals who stand out from the crowd, then, it is because of the others to whom we are related, in structured situations not of our making. What makes us stand out, in short, are the shoulders we’re thrust upon.
Did you catch this episode of The Sopranos (back in 2002 [Season 4, episode 3])? Sure, there’s a fair bit of swearing in the clip below, but we’re all adults here, right? Continue reading “The Strong Silent Type”
Retronaut recently posted a little Roman Catholic devotional booklet from 1927, “Examination of Conscience for Boys and Girls” — a booklet on identifying sins, “especially adapted for the age and circumstances of the average boy or girl in grade school.” Hunting around the web you can find mention of the publishing house begun in 1913, in St. Louis, that produced it (and a variety of its other such pamphlets, such as this one form the 1940s on the dangers of divorce [PDF]) — known as “The Queen’s Work,” and also learn that this popular pre-Vatican II children’s booklet went through at least 29 printings by the early 1950s. Continue reading “Know Thyself”