The author describes the paragraph below as "a few hundred words of complete nonsense" and calls the title "meaningless". Against his own worst intentions (allowing for some absolute nonsense and bad grammar) much of it is comprehensible, written while drunk, with a few good passages. The title itself makes perfect sense.
“Music, Religion, Politics, and Everyday Life: The Tensions of Utopianism and Pragmatism in Movements for Change.”
From the scribes and rabbis who wrote the original Torah, to the troubadour-activists who sang “Which Side Are You On?” and “Waste Deep in the Big Muddy,” to the gangbangers and hip-hoppers who create contemporary street rap, the relationship between culture, politics, religion and everyday life has been poorly understood. As Bloor observes: “In fact sociologists have been only too eager to limit their concern with science to its institutional framework and external factors relating to its rate of growth or direction this leaves untouched the nature of the knowledge thus created.” There is an obvious tension between romanticism and reality, between humanity and barbarism, between self-reflection and communal expression, which pervades both the written word and the oral tradition. Can a society promote utopianism and dystopianism simultaneously, while allowing its governing officials, whether military conquerors or democratically elected, to perform the necessary day-to-day functions of street-cleaning, sanitation, animal rescue, industrial production, hunting-and-gathering, maintaining law and order, and (what Heideger called the “organicity of intellectual work”) educating children and reproducing the next generation. We might call this a kind of scientism of contradiction, or the contradictions of scientific production, or the contradictory intellectual discipline of everyday life. In other words, can the rigors of so called “pure” intellectual work (including those of the priestly class and its modern counterparts), the artistry of craftwork (or the craft of artistry), and the degradations of subsistence agriculture, mining, factory work, and retail sales co-inhabit the same society without igniting the ticking time bomb of social implosion, as we've recently seen in riots in the French suburbs and in the ghettos and barrios of Los Angeles? How, in other words, does the globalization of both production and knowledge work (the so-called “Walmartization” of societies) challenge our ability to think clearly about what is true in contrast to what is delusion? Self-delusion and self-discipline inhibits the reflective self, the postmodern membrane, the ecclesiastical impulse forbidden by truth-seeking and sun worship, problematizing the inchoate structures of both reason and darkness, allowing knowledge, half-knowledge, and knowledgelessness to undermine and yet simultaneously overcome the self-loathing that overwhelms the Gnostic challenge facing Biblical scribes, folksingers, and hip-hop rappers alike. Sociologists ignore these topics at their peril.Dreier says C. Wright Mills would be ashamed.
If Mills were alive today, he’d be saddened by the exponential growth of bad writing by academics, especially by those on the left. The problem of academic jargon is not confined to a single political or ideological wing, but it certainly dominates much of the writing by leftists in the social sciences and humanities.The project at Harvard is the Urban Theory Lab, and the professor is Neil Brenner
...I was recently asked to review a paper submitted to the Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture for its upcoming annual conference at the University of Calgary in Canada. The paper was entitled “Detroit: Sense of Place and Self-Overcoming,” which I hoped would have something to do with the class and race struggles of the city’s working class, which has suffered due to the decline of its auto industry and Michigan’s increasingly right-wing and anti-union policies. Instead, here’s how the author summarized his ideas:
We build, maintain, and structure cities. Cities, however, maintain and structure certain attitudes in us. Given the attitudes generated by our sense of a place, critical perspectives that only target overt structures within city systems are incomplete. Jacobs outlines several design aspects of the city that are “Anticity…” Hardt and Negri identify the task of the politics of the metropolis as “…to organize antagonisms against hierarchies and divisions of the metropolis…” To fully engage the attitudes generated by our sense of a place requires what Nietzsche describes as self-mastery. Though important factors, design and politics alone are insufficient.A prominent urban scholar at Harvard describes his latest research project as following:
Through a conceptual distinction between concentrated urbanization (agglomeration) and extended urbanization (operational landscapes) … we aim to investigate the historical geographies of the capitalist urban-industrial fabric in ways that supersede inherited metageographical binarisms while opening up new sociological, cartographic and political perspectives on the contemporary global-urban condition....Detroit and other American cities face enormous problems—poverty, homelessness, suburban sprawl, decaying infrastructure, underfunded schools, pollution, racial profiling by cops, and others. Professors and researchers who study and care about cities—and whose work is subsidized directly and indirectly (through foundation grants and government-sponsored financial aid to students) by tax dollars—have an obligation to help address these problems, in part by explaining the roots of the urban crisis and what’s needed to address it. It is difficult to see how this kind of abstract theorizing and impenetrable prose contributes to improving our cities.
Previous, on another Harvard cultural "Lab"
on the "research model"
For Detroit, see the link on the bottom here.
"The Tensions of Utopianism and Pragmatism in Movements for Change.”
My first thought was Corey Robin's contempt for Montesquieu because "he pursued no beckoning light", then Emmanuel Todd, "A religion is a form of utopia: when it disappears, alternative utopias appear." But the obvious is the "Democratic Socialist" Bernie Sanders and "Killer" Mike.
Actually my first response posted on twitter was "What next, the idiot Hofstadter?"
The next day Ross Douthat tweeted a quote from "Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections"
In 1963 Richard Hofstadter published his landmark book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Today, Matt Lewis argues, America's inclination toward simplicity and stupidity is stronger than ever, and its greatest victim is the Republican Party. Lewis, a respected conservative columnist and frequent guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe, eviscerates the phenomenon of candidates with a "no experience required" mentality and tea party "patriots" who possess bluster but few core beliefs.Americans, dumb and dumber. Fuck Peter Dreier, fuck C.Wright Mills, fuck Harvard (and Douthat was for Harvard before he was against it). The questions remain. Below repeats the post mentioned above. Go there for the context
Technocracy is not democracy, and the knee-jerk, mirror-image, rebellion against technocracy is not a democratic movement. The decay of technocracy is something else; it produces another social order.
The bow-tied college professor, Jerry Herron, like Borges and his gauchos, idealizes a culture built from necessity. For the whites, including white DJs, in from the suburbs, the music was a discovery, but the men who invented the music have a richer more complex understanding. They were trying to preserve the humane in an inhumane world, using a language they as products of that world understood. There's a connection that runs through Herron to both Borges and Lawrence Lessig, and also Graeber and to Cody Wilson: a fundamental misunderstanding of culture. The knowing irony on all sides that connected Detroit techno and hip-hop to Kraftwerk and hip-hop to the gay clubs in the 70's is lost on followers of simple, otherworldly individualist, liberalism. Culture is conservative: it conserves.
Ideological liberals don't understand culture, seeing it as a choice rather than something constitutive of what they are. But libertarian culture like fascist and Stalinist culture could be called almost an oxymoron.
And Detroit also means Bowie. Now let's talk politics.