Abandon hope all ye who enter here

“Read her book if you want your blood to freeze.”

Northwestern film professor Laura Kipnis has a new book – Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus – which is at #1 on Amazon even before the release date (in the categories of “Sociology of Abuse” and “Education and Reform Policy”).  The Guardian interviews her.

“All that stuff Kafka wrote about,” she says, “is true: the inner sense of guilt that even an innocent person can feel. I would imagine myself in this interrogation situation – which, by the way, is pretty much what happened.”

The tone of the article might give one hope – a liberal newspaper commiserating with a liberal feminist professor about surviving a Kafkaesque trial put on by liberals – that the day has finally come when people can “look back at this officially sanctioned hysteria with the same bemusement that they look back on the Salem witch trials.”

Trials in which “the authorities seem to be unwilling to object to the relatively low standard of proof” and “don’t even allow the accused person to present a defence.”

But you’d be well advised to exercise that most middle-class of values, deferred gratification. Not only because not all today’s witches are in the relatively protected classes of females or feminists, but also because Kipnis herself still has not fully accepted that liberals have moved past “increasingly authoritarian.” In this territory where show trials are the norm, she still believes there are “certain allies” who are unacceptable.

“The people supporting free speech now are the conservatives. It’s incomprehensible to me, but it’s the so-called liberals on campus, the students who think of themselves as activists, who are becoming increasingly authoritarian. So I’m trying to step carefully. It’s not like you want to make certain allies, particularly the men’s rights people.”

As Mike Pence once wrote about having dinner within 100 miles of Wellesley, which he wisely avoided, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”


Stuff from my Notebook #1

The practice of writing down my ideas in a notebook started a few years ago. When I was younger, I hated the idea. Now that I’m old(er) the habit is bearing fruit. For instance, on page 11 of the notebook my wife gave me for our anniversary (paper), I find this:

1634: England’s government begins to use the common hangman to burn books, as a way of intimidating heretics. Daniel Dafoe heard a book publisher remark that this was the best way to boost sales.

Since my notebook is just for ideas, I sometimes don’t include the source (a habit I hope won’t bite me later). Like lice, which appear later on in the form of this idea:

Book idea. The History of Itching. A story of the human condition. Folklore remedies, devices, social taboos. Pleasure and pain, fetishes. Dogs and the “robot leg”. Do amphibians itch? But there’s more! The book comes with a complimentary back-scratcher from Indonesia, hand-picked from the finest quality bamboo!

Re-reading the idea, I searched the Web and found an article at Scientific American, Of lice and men: An itchy history.

I do believe there are some new ideas under the sun, but I don’t claim to have many unique ones myself. I’ll be posting them here occasionally, for whatever they’re worth…