Tag Archives | Cultural Criticism

Frank Furedi: 21st Century Heresy Hunting

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Frank Furedi is a commentator, author and sociologist whose recent work explores the nature of authority and mistrust. He is a leading voice in discussions of fear, risk and the unknown.

Contemporary society is more comfortable with values in the plural than with a value that everyone can embrace. Instead of “the truth”, society prefers to lecture about truths. The celebration of non-judgmentalism and difference can be interpreted as a self-conscious attempt to avoid having to make moral judgments. On most issues we are free to pick and choose our beliefs and affiliations. Educators continually inform university students – especially in the social sciences and humanities – that there is no such thing as a wrong or right answer. Instead of an explicit moral code, Western society seeks to police behaviour through a diffuse rhetoric – such as appropriate and inappropriate behaviour – that avoids confronting fundamental existential questions.

Paradoxically, the absence of moral clarity encourages an illiberal climate of intolerant behaviour.… Read the rest

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Kenneth Smith: Self-Knowing

KenIn my archives, I have a large amount of terrific Kenneth Smith emails. This one is an exhilarating journey through the psycho-therapeutic idea of “knowing yourself.” (Smith’s paragraphs are in maroon.)

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From: Kenneth R. Smith <kensmith@——.net>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 15:34:40 -0500
To: cbelan <c——@——.com>
Subject: Re: kernel of thought

on 1/6/05 11:54 PM, c—— at c——@——.com wrote:

Hi Kenneth:

Okay, there is a small rumbling deep in the dark recesses of my mind.   I’ll toss it and trust you to run with it.

Rumblings do set me to running.  Never mind to where or with what.  If it’s not an earthquake then it’s something visceral.

After years of therapy I thought that the goal in knowing oneself well was to apply that knowledge and awareness to a range of life experiences.   But looking back at my life I wonder if there are parts of it (namely that faith issue combined with work life) that one should just barrel through in trust of their principals and not analyze or try to make it match that “logic” side of me.

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Kenneth Smith: Cultural Critic of the Modern Era

Kenneth SmithIn 1988 artist and philosophy professor Kenneth Smith began writing a philosophy column called Dramas of the Mind in The Comics Journal. Smith’s column ran there intermittently for the next twenty years. Smith wrote about philosophical issues as they relate to modern civilization, covering ethics, violence, sex, education, science, art, etc. Smith wrote powerful analysis of contemporary manias and delusions in a blazing, take-no-prisoners style. His insights into the modern age are penetrating and worthy of the great cultural critics and essayists of the past, in the traditions of Chomsky, Mencken, Bloom, Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Vidal, Žižek, etc. Certainly his is a voice that deserves greater exposure.

This information page gives an overview of Kenneth Smith, links to many resources, and posts scans of his classic run of TCJ columns. The scans contain his most essential writing, but there is a Tumblr blog and a Gaim library that provide quotes from longer pieces.… Read the rest

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Kartoonz Fer Krist’s Sake . . .

Found these bizarre clips on Youtube . . . from an old RTÉ series called "Give Up Yer Aul Sins" Pretty amazing in its own way.  The narrative content shows a pretty deep familiarity with the characters and plots central to the Christian drama, even if its skimpiness with the gorey brutality of The Passion seems a little naive.  I guess I have to keep in mind that this thing was produced by foreigners, so I shouldn't expect them to demonstrate the sublte mastery of an American artiste like Mel Gibson...
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Oh Cupcake, Where Art Thou?: The Search for America’s Next Sweetheart

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan in 2002. Photo: RadioKirk (CC)

The U.S. spiraled into decades of romantic uncertainty and self-loathing after the heartbreak of Mary Pickford losing a leg to gangrene following a vicious tavern brawl in 1929. Where will we find America’s Little Cupcake for the 21st century?

Well, 2011 certainly is shaping up to be quite the year for Wisconsinites.  Douchebag Senator Paul Ryan not only escaped the noose for his role in engineering the AIG bailouts in the mid-terms, but also became the budget committee chief this January.  Newly elected RNC chair and former ethical giant Racid Priebus, a Kenosha native, began in earnest his party’s campaign to contest the health care reform law that he himself claimed was unassailably constitutional. And of course, just this week, America’s Team, the Green Bay Packers took the crown in the fairly eventful Superbowl XLV.

Whew! Pretty heady stuff — but the ride’s not over yet. Valentine’s weekend is almost upon us, and as the United State’s official Capitol of Love is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is once more at the center stage of world events.… Read the rest

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