Monday, August 18, 2014

A Random Assortment

~ "The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who's Buying Up All the World's Vinyl Records." This makes my compulsive scarf-buying look tame.

~ With our fancy HBO subscription, Francisco and I watched Parade's End, the BBC miniseries of the books by Ford Madox Ford (crazy name! he made it up himself). I liked it, to be perfectly honest, until the very end (despite my utter confusion at times due to the show's lack of clarity, which did not, however, make it unwatchable). I thought that, at the end of the day, Benedict Cumberbatch picked the wrong girl. Francisco was cheering Cumberbatch on. Alas, I lost.

~ Goodness: I wish I knew German to know if this translation is correct: "It doesn't look good when a woman gives orders. She should try not to get into a situation like that if she wants to remain feminine." Of course, she follows that up with "I don't know if I'm right." And "I always did what I wanted to do. I didn't worry if it was a man's job." Later:
"You ask about the effect my work has on others. If I may speak ironically, that's a masculine question. Men always want to be influential. I see that somewhat as an onlooker. ... If others understand in the same way I've understood that gives me a sense of satisfaction, like being among equals."
~ This is a reminder to me to drink this cocktail next month, when I plan to return to alcohol with a vengeance (not really; don't worry) (via Hopkins).

~ I don't have much to say about Ferguson that hasn't already been said. Even the most pro-war, pro-guns people of my acquaintance are silent about Ferguson. Which is to say, there isn't much of an other side, as far as I can tell.

My experience in STL was that it was the most segregated place that I've been to in my life. There were very few parts of town with any significant racial integration. And, as far as I understand it (I've never been there), Ferguson is one of the parts of STL that is in transition--it was previously totally white and is now predominantly black, which leads to its own problems of authority that doesn't reflect the inhabitants.

The thing that came to my mind on this was a moment from The Wire--a seasoned policeman tells a very green policeman that he can't just swoop in and arrest people on his beat when there's a problem; he needs to spend time on his beat getting to know all of the kids in the community so that he has rapport with them and can find out what's really going on when there is a problem. Several episodes later we seen the green policeman doing just that--he knows all their names and what they're up to.


Miss Self-Important said...

In the Arendt video, they actually don't translate a sentence or two after "I am old-fashioned" and before the line you quote. But I like her remarks here. They're very Rousseauian.

Emily Hale said...

Yeah--it didn't seem like there was enough translating going on at that point. Do you speak German??

Miss Self-Important said...

No, just the meager remains of high school instruction. But I think the skipped line is something like "it was my view that some occupations are not for women" or maybe "not appropriate for women," something like that.

Emily Hale said...

Intriguing! Thanks! Esp. since she, as she notes, she always did what she wanted to...

Miss Self-Important said...

That's what struck me as Rousseauian. Rousseau says women and men rule by different means - men by visible political command, and women more subtly by determining the mores of a society. Women should not try to be like men in public, b/c they won't be taken seriously as men AND they will lose their feminine authority (Rousseau also says they will ruin men if they do this). For individual women, this does seem to amount to something like what Arendt says - an instruction to do what you want, but to do it in light of an awareness of these dynamics. If you want to rule (people other than your husband) and you are a woman, you will have the least success as a military general, and the most as a writer. Literature and criticism are ways of influencing mores that do not appear as commands, but as suggestions or illuminations of the obvious ideas that we just never quite thought of that way before.

Emily Hale said...

A couple of thoughts: I'm always intrigued by how much Tocqueville borrows from and yet doesn't completely buy Rousseau: I think at the end of the day, Tocqueville thinks that men and women could probably rule through the same methods, but that this would harm the institution of the family, which he wants to protect. So he advises that women follow custom and stay in the home, influencing mores.

My reading of Arendt thus far (and might need to be modified by her comments here) is that she thinks that customs regarding women's role are and should be modified by women's existential practice of living and acting in the world. So there's not a particular end that she's going for, although she advocates starting by respecting custom and whatever nature can tell us about being a woman. (This isn't inconsistent with the Rousseauian insight that you note--if you're concerned with being effective, then you will take into account the best way to rule--and I think she is concerned with effectiveness in her work.)

I wonder about her downplaying her desire to influence people. Should teachers want people to "understand in the same way I've understood"? That seems to leave out some of the conversation aspect of education and learning from your students.