Oh, David Foster Wallace, I Remember Now Why I Hate You

From Salon.com:

I like to teach freshman lit because ISB gets a lot of rural students who aren’t very well educated and don’t like to read. They’ve grown up thinking that literature means dry, irrelevant, unfun stuff, like cod liver oil. Getting to show them some more contemporary stuff — the one we always do the second week is a story called “A Real Doll,” by A.M. Homes, from “The Safety of Objects,” about a boy’s affair with a Barbie doll. It’s very smart, but on the surface, it’s very twisted and sick and riveting and real relevant to people who are 18 and five or six years ago were either playing with dolls or being sadistic to their sisters. To watch these kids realize that reading literary stuff is sometimes hard work, but it’s sometimes worth it and that reading literary stuff can give you things that you can’t get otherwise, to see them wake up to that is extremely cool.

1.  No one calls it ISB.  It’s not even in Bloomington.  It’s in Normal, which you know, seeing as how your dad was a fucking professor over at the U of I while you were growing up.  You grew up less than an hour away from the school you teach at and you don’t even know that it’s ISU?  Or State?

2.  Oh, thank you precious savior of rural kids.  We are all stupid hicks who hate books.

That being said, I’ve now hated the man more than a decade.   And, in retrospect, it still irks me that a man who’s supposedly so devoted to words can’t accurately represent, with words, where he was teaching.

And it hurts my pride that he thinks his students, of which I could have been one, had I but chosen the other end of University to make my home, are all ignorant hicks.

But maybe instilling a love of reading in folks who otherwise wouldn’t have it is not such a bad goal.  So, David Foster Wallace, I forgive you.  Let’s move on.

Not together.  You stay over there and I’ll stay over here, but you know, on in our separate ways. 

In Which I Respond to My Critics

Listen, do I think it’s "right" for the CBC to not include Cohen?  No.  But Cohen, by publicly hinting that he might join and giving what seems like an incredibly reasonable reason for wanting to join–he represents a majority black district–and getting shot down, raised every reasonable and nuanced point there is to raise.  Does the CBC exist to serve the needs of black Congress members or folks with large black constituencies?  Before now, the CBC had been letting those two goals remain conveniently conflated.  Now, they’ve had to articulate that the first priority of the CBC is aiding black members of Congress.

If there are voters who assumed that the first priority of the CBC was to band together to pool resources to best serve their black constituents, now they know that that’s not the case and they can do what they will with that information.

Cohen’s points are proven.  What’s the most important point he’s proven to his voters back home?  That they are not losing out on an important source of power by electing a white man (who can’t join the CBC) instead of a black man (who can) because the CBC is not about empowering their black constituencies, but about hording power for themselves.

Here are my problems with y’all’s "outrage."

1.  People are assholes.  Running around acting shocked because black people also act like assholes makes it seem like you hold black people to a higher standard of conduct than you do for the rest of us, like there’s something terribly wrong with black people acting like the rest of us.

2.  Yes, discrimination is wrong, but we still live in a country that, for the most part, has a system in place the benefits white people, men especially.  If a police officer pulls you over, you don’t immediately have to assume you’re going to jail.  Did either of your parents teach you the importance of never even attracting the attention of a cop?  How many times have you been told that, if you’re assaulted, you must immediately tell others and report it immediately to the police and immediately go to the hospital and immediately make yourself available to whoever has questions for you, because you have to get people to believe that something happened to you for you to even begin to get justice for it?  And if so, did you ever have any doubt that, if you showed them bruises and scratches, you’d be believed?  Have you ever reported an assault against you only to have the police open an investigation into you and your friends?

Yes, shitty things happen to white people.  And the farther down the social ladder you get, the shittier the shit you’re forced to eat is, but there’s not that same weight of the whole system against you all the time.  It’s just not.

And that’s the difference.  Black people can and do discriminate against white people (because black people are people and people are assholes) but black people cannot, for the most part, bring the whole weight of the system down on white people whereas, when a white person gets it in his head to be a fucker to a black person?  The threat of the weight of the whole system is there and that is very different.

It’s Better than Bad! It’s Good!

If I don’t keep an eye on her, Mrs. Wigglebottom exhibits alarming libertarian tendencies.

“Why can’t I run around naked if I want? My body; my choice.”

“Why are we stopping at this traffic light? Go, damn it, I want to get to the park and traffic laws are clearly for wussies.”

“Hey, you, other dog there on the side of the road. Yeah, you! If I had a gun, I might shoot you. What do you think of that?”

“You know, when the zombie apocalypse comes, we’re going to need a source of heat. Let’s bring this log home.”

As one might imagine, after trying to carry it in her mouth half a block, she decided that breaking it up into smaller pieces might make transporting it easier.