Sport, Spectacle, Decorum, Politics

J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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19 Responses

  1. gregiank says:

    I didn’t watch the O speech so my comment doesn’t particularly relate to that. I can’t help but think of the difference in behavior you would typically see at a predominantly AfAm church and that which you would see at a mainline protestant or Catholic Church. In a AfAm church it would be common to hear a lot of ruckus that seems undignified or inappropriate in other churches. Both, though, are part of our shared cultural heritage.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to gregiank says:

      I had much the same thought at times on Wednesday, especially during Obama’s speech, much less so during the other speeches. At other times, it just sounded like what one would expect from college students listening to speeches from dignataries. It was just a poor choice of venue, I think – an audience of college students, relatively few of whom were actually from the city of Tucson, much less had any direct connection to the victims.Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    I can’t speak about the crowd because I’ve read the speech but not watched it. I would say that a thought I keep having is that it doesn’t bother me that people now get so passionate about politics that they seem close to coming to blows. That’s been the case for the last few hundred years at least. It does, however, bother me that it’s no longer possible to imagine people coming to blows over a poem, a painting, or a ballet- all of which used to happen.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I’m pretty sure painting still fits, poems have been replaced with movies, novels, and songs for coming to blows with.

      Of course all of my examples would be about paintings, videos, and novels that get caught up in politics so at best I have dinged your statement.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

        It’s sort of a fuzzy line, isn’t it? I had in mind some of the aesthetic debates in the 1800s that broke out in brawls at plays and operas and the like, and definitely people took great offense at what they saw as cultural decadence. I suppose that also ties into J.L. Wall’s point about cultural ‘decline’ having gone on since long before the 60s. Bohemianism is fairly consistent in its provocations. But, of course, there was always a political aspect to it as well. If you upset the aesthetic standards of the bourgeoisie, it’s a political statement as well.

        Or, at least, it once was. Now, I suspect that shocking art is more a matter of consumer choice. I can always just attend another movie or buy another album. There aren’t universal standards that are being attacked by bad art. It just seems to me that most people I encounter are much more passionate about politics than about culture, and I was wondering if that doesn’t tie into Wall’s opening line there about the decline of one affecting the other. I know many more people who have strong revulsion and anger towards Sarah Palin than towards, say, Jeff Koons, although I’d sort of think Koons is a lot more deserving.Report

    • Rufus, I think comparing and contrasting the crowd at events like ten cent beer night with The Chorus of classical and Elizabethan Drama would make for an interesting post from you. Can I make a request?Report

    • E.C. Gach in reply to Rufus F. says:

      I know my friends and I are like this. We are all big movie goers, have extensive music collections that we pride ourselves on, and play video games. But we also argue, sometimes virulently, about the value or greatness of any of them. We could spend an hour or two debating why one track is better than another, or how movie x was well executed but failed in its content, to the point where each of us takes it personally, as if we were defending a body part from amputation rather than dissecting the latest Coen bros. film.

      I’m not sure if that is simply because we like to argue, or if it’s because we are all a bit on the egotistical side, or something else, but taking a look around the bar, we are usually the few doing that.Report

  3. E.D. Kain says:

    Really great post, JL.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    In my experience, incivility and a lack of decorum correlate with to an inflated sense of self. I wonder if it’s that public occasions fail to instill awe, or if narcissistic people are, in some sense, threatened by experiences that seem to dwarf their individual selfhood. I wonder if they don’t find the awe-inspiring somehow offensive.Report

    • 62across in reply to Rufus F. says:

      It’s inflated sense of self AND the corollary impulse to deflate others, particularly public figures, don’t you think? I’m surprised how little deference there is these days and I imagine, though I don’t know, that it wasn’t always like this.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to 62across says:

        Believe it or not, I’ve seen people be the same way about really great works of art. And, you know, it might really be indifference, but they also seem to be threatened or offended somehow. Yeah, it’s also the same way with distinguished figures in the media- there’s a desire to bring them down to “our” level.Report

    • Will H. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      That is one incredible comment.Report

  5. Will H. says:

    I’ll probably write something this weekend about the shootings in Arizona. I haven’t found an angle that hasn’t been explored yet. Until now.
    You see, the real issue is that there are not enough people in Arizona that are liquored up. That’s the real problem right there. It’s all about the Democrats taxing the alcohol. As a result, a significant portion of Arizona’s population has to make due without a substantial portion of hard liquor– the harder, the better.
    Due to the Democrats tax-and-spend ways, the Republicans’ cutbacks to social services, such as mental health care, come to light. If only there were more people liquored up standing around, it’s likely no one would notice.
    Mentally ill persons could well form some form of self-sustained management system, with non-compulsory reporting requirements where they could keep track of themselves and– for crying out loud– TELL SOMEBODY if you think maybe you’re on the edge of going out to shoot a congressman. A purely voluntary initiative. Who best to monitor the mentally ill but the mentally ill?
    Of course, it goes without saying that George Soros wouldn’t want the mentally ill to be monitored. The bastard. He’s probably out trying to get more people to become mentally ill right now, just so they can go without monitoring.
    He’s probably out there somewhere trying to stop good, outstanding Arizonans from getting liquored up. Maybe some redistribution effort or something.

    The thing is I can always tell if someone is to the Right or to the Left before they even really begin talking about it. It’s odd.Report

  6. E.C. Gach says:

    Terrific post Wall. Something interesting and provocative without being polemic. I was getting tired of all the back and forth about who was scoring and their vileness for attempting to do so at a time like this. It’s nice to get to something deeper.

    “They lament the assimilation of public life to a “mere” political event and, implicitly, of politics to sports.”

    When presented with this point of view I’ve always had the problem of, “so you want me to compartmentalize my beliefs about the world and how it should be?”

    I can understand not “politicizing” every facet of one’s life, if by “politicize” we mean trying to get Dems/Repubs elected. But when it comes to the other things (and this I think is why you see the Left always stewing in political juices, about almost everything), if I think that their are lots of poor people, and many can’t help their situation (this is just an example of a potential political attitude), and that young girls/boys die in poverty stricken areas because of violence, drugs, and unemployment, how do I compartmentalize that orientation to the world out of my daily mindset?

    With that in mind I can understand why really religious people are all, God this and God that. If I held that system of beliefs about the world, how could I do anything but? If anything, the ones who are confusing to me are the people that have their neighbors, friends, family, churchgoers, colleagues, etc. and they act differently in each sphere, with very little overlap. How can I be a religious man in one setting (the pews in church on Sunday) and then be a business man Monday. Or how can I be someone who feels certain things are morally owed by humanity to its fellow humanity, but then not only act against that belief (of course I do it all the time) but then justify doing so because I happen to be in another realm of my life?Report

  7. E.C. Gach says:

    The split between consuming and participating is huge though, and whether through necessity of volition, it’s affecting every thing we seem to do now.Report

  8. NoPublic says:

    It’s worth noting that the University (which created and organized this event) did not describe it as a memorial in the invitations and posters. That’s a media spin on the event. It was billed as a “celebration of unity, community, and life”.Report