Ordinary World: Labor Day

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his food writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast. Subscribe to Andrew's Heard Tell SubStack for free here:

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108 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels says:

    As I’ve gotten older, I’m increasingly coming round to the idea that maybe we can’t attain a clean resolution of sexuality, because to do so would require a clean resolution of our own mortality and carnal existence.

    One of the most common themes running through horror movies is the horror of confronting the fact that the universe is largely indifferent to our existence, that in fact a whole host of creatures see us as nothing more than sacks of meat to burrow in, to eat from, to defile and degrade.

    Another theme running through literature is that there is inside of all of us, a beast that can’t be tamed, that is transgressive and selfish and utterly amoral. That with the right set of triggers, even the most pious and loving person can do awful cruel things.

    I think every one of us at some point if we live long enough, encounters some shattering dark night of the soul when we confront our own darkness and see what we are capable of.

    So maybe the flaw is in thinking it can be cleanly resolved- maybe our life’s work is to struggle with ourselves and be in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Seconding this. Sex and it’s more noble cousin romantic love are issues filled with a lot of pitfalls. The pro-sex side wants to teach that sexuality is normal and that celibacy is entirely unnatural for humans, which seems true enough, but also has no idea about what to do with people frozen out of sex. “Remember that celibacy thing which we told you humans aren’t good at being, guess what you need to be really good at?” This is especially true if the person being frozen out of romantic love/sex belongs to a demographic group the speaker is not necessarily sympathetic to. So a lot of this talk comes up “you must come out and celebrate and support me but I don’t have to support you.”Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

        One of my more profound realizations was that sex is wealth, and inequality exists for sex just like it does for wealth, and that the privileged in sex have exactly the same view as the privileged in wealth do. “Why are you so angry about how I have more? Just…have some yourself! I mean, it’s not hard for me, I can just get it whenever I want, I barely even have to try, if it’s hard for you then you must be making it hard on purpose. Maybe you’re too picky, or you’re just doing some obviously-wrong thing. Or you’re just lazy, you don’t want to just do the work, and seriously, it’s not that much work.”Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to DensityDuck says:

          I don’t think sex and money are exact comparisons. Redistributing money is possible while redistributing sex is just going to result in a lot of evil. The best that can be done is legalizing commercial sex and not stigmatizing people that use it. Sex as a status symbol and method of control is probably a better comparison than sex as wealth.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Watch what happens to the sentence when you speak for yourself:

      “As I’ve gotten older, I’m increasingly coming round to the idea that maybe I can’t attain a clean resolution of sexuality, because to do so would require a clean resolution of my own mortality and carnal existence.”Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

        “Another theme running through literature is that there is inside of all of us, a beast that can’t be tamed, that is transgressive and selfish and utterly amoral. That with the right set of triggers, even the most pious and loving person can do awful cruel things.”

        Or, even worse, tweet awful cruel things…Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Need better horror.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    LD5: Adding to my above point, nobody really wants to get really cynical towards people and teach them that romantic love and sexual attraction are fundamentally unfair. Readers of this blog know that this has been a particularly frustrating area of my life. During the pandemic I managed to actually get into a relationship. It turned out to be interesting experience because I was thrown into a vortex of my girlfriend’s personal and work problems exasperated by the pandemic. During the last conversation we had, she admitted that I was much more supportive than any of her previous boyfriends, that I was less demanding and what I expected was reasonable, and one of her best friends was doing some real serious advocacy work on my behalf. Despite all this, she decided to break up with me for whatever reason was going through her head. So even though I did what I was supposed to do, the relationship went nowhere. There are some really malicious and bad people who just drip with sexuality, power, and chemistry though that manage to get their fill always.Report

    • JS in reply to LeeEsq says:

      “So even though I did what I was supposed to do, the relationship went nowhere.”

      Cannot stress this enough, relationships are not transactional. There is “did what I was supposed to” in a relationship. There’s no currency you bank for future upgrades, no buying a relationship through deeds or lack thereof.

      Relationships are give and take, yes, but the fact that you “give” doesn’t actually GET you the relationship, or keep it. Neglect can kill one, sure. Not being supportive or giving (and this goes both ways) can kill it.

      But just being giving and supportive is not sufficient to make a relationship.

      What builds a relationship is complicated, unique to each couple, and “supportive” is indeed often a very big plus — but that alone is not going to hold a relationship together.

      Doubly so during a hellishly stressful time like a pandemic.

      Oh, and this: “Despite all this, she decided to break up with me for whatever reason was going through her head”

      Really reeks of “she had no good reason and did it anyways”. Trivializing her decisions and decision making process, implying she clearly had no valid reasons to reject you — that’s an ugly look, and right there damn sufficient to kill a relationship.

      Why would you date someone who dismissed your opinions like that? They clearly don’t respect you.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to JS says:

        “and if you didn’t insist that you HAD to have your avocado toast and six-dollar Starbucks lattes, you wouldn’t be HAVING money trouble now!”Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to JS says:

        Somehow I don’t think this would be posted if the genders were reversed.Report

        • JS in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I absolutely would have, yes.

          I find it quite reaffirming to my point that you instantly decided you had to be the victim of a double-standard and not, perhaps, wrong.

          I try to ignore your comments on your love life, but if this crap comes across in random internet comments, it must be VERY obvious in person.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to JS says:

            You know nothing. If there is a belief that relationship success is just basically a matter of luck than come out and say so.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

              There are a lot of polite fictions that we have to maintain, Lee, and the fact that you’re calling these polite fictions “fictions” is really bad.

              You need to be punished, for the benefit of society at large. The punishment needs to be outsized compared to the (seeming) offense due to how we need to discourage others from following your example.

              You need to be made an example of.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m actually in agreement with the current ideas about romance, sex, and consent on my side of the political aisle. I do not agree with sugar coating it in noble sounding phrases and ideas so much though. There was and is nothing I could do to get somebody to do something they didn’t want to. Sometimes a person really does give it their all but still fails because of outside forces. I also don’t like that talking about these sets of anxieties are bad while talking about those sets of anxieties are good.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:


                Why do you think the government should be handing out girlfriends to people who vote the right way?Report

        • Pinky in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Without going where JS did, I’ll say that there are a hundred reasons why a person might break up with someone. I don’t know the context why the relative level of supportiveness came up, but it may have had nothing to do with the reason for the breakup. I think there is a lot of luck in whether two people click, not that behaviour isn’t important.

          Also, I’m sure you’re really frustrated right now. Any “what’s wrong with her?” or “what’s wrong with me?” narrative is going to be a little skewed even at the best of times, but when I know from experience that when I’m nursing my wounds my narratives can be way off. I do wish you the best.Report

          • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

            To wit, I once broke up with a girl I otherwise liked a lot because her first name was the female version of my first name. She was super cool, but I simply could not handle the lifetime of mockery from my group of drunken meat head friends. Further, the possibility of my life becoming such a cutesy scenario was more than I could bear. Even now I shudder to think about it.

            I mention this only because it is quite possibly something that stupid or has nothing to do with Lee at all. My wife has provided me what she refers to as her list of ‘Costanza Reasons’ for ghosting men prior to me. Spoiler is that they almost all were way more about what was going on with her than with them.

            So, Lee, it sucks to be dumped, and I hope you feel better soon. But don’t let it get you too down. Hit the gym. Get your brother to hook you up with his fashion people. Then get back out there when you’re ready. Always be leveling up, learn to laugh at the whiffs, and you will eventually succeed.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Pinky says:

            I’m also middle aged and really behind in this area of life. There is a feeling of running out of time and having a lot to do.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

      You dodged a bullet.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    LD6: I never understood the appeal of Catcher. But then, I don’t enjoy fiction where I loathe the main character. Never liked the Sopranos either.Report

  4. Marchmaine says:

    [LD6] – Is there really a ‘thing’ with Catcher in the Rye? I thought we in GenX killed it with our near universal reaction of:

    “It’s definitely a book of an earlier era and it felt as such when I read it as a teenager. I was hoping to connect with it on a deep level (uh, not a Mark David Chapman level) the way some adults in my life had, and I didn’t and was kind of bummed out. “Report

    • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

      I suspect it depends on whether you see blue check progressive twitter and similar spaces as real. One of the handful of things keeping me sane is operating under the assumption that they aren’t.Report

    • Even late boomers feel that way. There’s some good stuff in Nine Stories, but otherwise Salinger never lived up to his early promise.Report

      • I think it’s a thing where boomers loved something in their childhood and have a hard time accepting that maybe it was kind of crap. To be fair, many Gen Xers have to go through the same reckoning with Star Wars.Report

        • InMD in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I think some things are just very much of a time and place.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to InMD says:

            That could be it- there are definitely 80s movies that aren’t nearly what I remembered them to be. It was accutely painful to realize that Goonies was pretty much two hours of screaming children.Report

            • InMD in reply to Rufus F. says:

              Yea, God knows there’s a lot of things that really spoke to me growing up that I’d never evangelize to anyone now. I’ve learned to forgive myself for that though, the same way I’ve learned to forgive those people who always wanted to me to learn Beatles songs on my old Squier when all I really wanted was to master Metallica solos.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I have a literary theory that there’s an ‘uncanny valley’ that starts approx 25-yrs after a work is published runs through an entire generation and ends approx 50-yrs after publication. We read TCitR during the uncanny valley and found it intolerable like chewing tinfoil.

          Only after the valley has been crossed can one begin to asses whether the work was enduring.

          I don’t think Salinger passes that bar. I think Walker Percy, for example, is currently *in* the valley and probably won’t emerge for another 3-7 years (if my theory holds up).Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

            You know the thing where someone says “Shakespeare is full of clichés!”?

            I get the feeling that Catcher suffers from that.

            In the current year, we are surrounded by tales told that were better than Catcher… that could not have been written without it (or, at this point, could not have been written without texts that could not have been written without it… or a few more iterations of that).

            If the ur-text is not the same quality as Shakespeare, you’re just stuck there saying “I don’t see what the big deal was.”Report

            • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

              I think Shakespeare benefits from the works not being set in Elizabethan England in a way that Salinger suffers for setting his story in the mid century NE. The Crucible is as relevant as ever.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

                I think that’s part of what I mean by the uncanny valley… it affects literature that attempts to tell us what life is about right here, right now. In the moment it might seem poignant… in the moment +1 it seems trite… in the wisdom of age?Report

              • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Sounds right to me. I might add ‘renewed social relevance’ to ‘wisdom of age.’ Hard for me to think of what might cause that to be with this particular work, but who knows what the future holds?Report

          • Kolohe in reply to Marchmaine says:

            I do like this theory.

            I don’t know if it is or will be considered a ‘classic’ but I started reading Snow Crash earlier this summer, and man, there’s a whole lot in that that’s hopelessly stuck in that early 90’s time it was written that’s quite jarring really.

            (It also doesn’t help when Stephenson reveals the age of Y.T. maybe a third of the way thru)Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Marchmaine says:

      There isn’t a “thing” with Catcher, but there’s a “thing” about there being a “thing”.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    LD6: J.D. Salinger is one of those mid-20th century Jewish male authors like Philip Roth that was seen as really radical at the times but is know seen as a passee and maybe even kind of bad white male writer. Catcher became popular because a lot of teenagers in the 1950s and 1960s really identified with it because it never really sugar coated much compared to other Young Adult novels at the time. Despite the fact that the main character was a really privileged boarding school kid, Catcher had a grisly realness in the way it captured adolescent frustration.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

      What broke open Catcher for me was the English teacher who mentioned, casually, halfway through his lecture: “you know he’s an unreliable narrator, right?”

      It didn’t do it for me at the time. I still thought the book had one note and played it loudly.

      But, when I was in my mid-20’s, I realized “Holy crap! Holden Caulfield is an unreliable narrator!”

      I never went back to read it and I doubt I ever will. But my irritation at its one note, played loudly turned into “huh… maybe there was a chord or two in there”.Report

      • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

        Reading it as a young teen in the late 90s I came away with a similar conclusion to Freddie, which also felt odd given the reverence I perceived some adults as having for it. But yea I’ve also wondered if I were to read it again if I wouldn’t pick up on a little more. I recall finding the setting and situations hard to visualize but maybe that’s just because I took it all at face value.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

          I have similar experiences with video games. “Oh, my gosh! This game was SOOOOOOOOOOOO good!” and then, you know, someone plays it and thinks that the interface sucks, the graphics are flat, the music is repetitive, and the gameplay is simple to the point of it being downright comic.

          But, seriously, in 1997? This game was the bomb diggity.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

        Some recently said that Holden is just a young man who can’t deal with pretty intense grief, and I remembered, Oh yeah, that was going on too.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        Holden is relating back his misadventures from sometime of mental health hospital or psychiatric ward. You think that he might be a tad unreliable?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Hey, when I was 15 or 16, it felt like the message was all about connecting with him, man. Yeah! I *AM* surrounded by phonies! Yeah! So-and-so *DOES* have great tits! This is a book that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is! Did you know that parental groups wanted to ban this due to its use of frank language and curse words and attitudes towards authority?!?

          Well, now we know that it should have been banned because of how white it is.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I wonder if how much of the Salinger mystique of the past was how he was a near-hermit, and communicated fairly little with the world, and didn’t write all that much by comparison to some writers.

      Like, I liked CitR when I read it at fourteen, not sure I’d be able to read it without throwing it across the room today. I think I tried it again in my 20s and gave up partway through.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to fillyjonk says:

        A million years ago, I read some article about a Catcher movie and how Salinger wouldn’t allow it because of how he thought that nobody would be able to play Holden but him.

        I remember thinking two things in quick succession:
        1. What a megalomaniacal ass.
        2. Hollywood *WOULD* probably screw the movie up. Make it an allegory about the Cold War. Give the lead role to Danny Bonaduce or something. He knew that and knew that he didn’t want to have to put up with whatever he sold away.

        Had he played his cards differently, we probably could have had a Catcher movie every 10-15 years until 9/11.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

          “Had he played his cards differently, we probably could have had a Catcher movie every 10-15 years until 9/11.”

          absolute tangent, but film studies people have got to be going crazy over the way that we’ll now have three different versions of the exact same story (Dune) each made almost exactly twenty years apart, and that lets them do all kinds of comparisons of filmmaking and storytelling techniques and conventions and how they changed over time.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Jaybird says:

          “HOLDEN! The Musical!” would probably be a thing

          with a chorus of people suited up as rye plants and as children trying to run over a cliff, it would be the big production number.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to fillyjonk says:

        I wonder how much of my disdain for the book comes from when I read it. My wife read it as a teenager and loved it, and encouraged me to read it after we got married (early 20’s). It landed flat with me at that age.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          A great many of the things people love when they first experience them as teenagers can only work when first experienced as a teenager.

          I remember people who said that they didn’t really see what was so great about The Princess Bride, and every one of them had first seen it as an adult in their thirties.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I tell my students that if someone’s gonna read Thoreau, they better do it before they’re 25 or 30 or so. I read him first in my thirties and just….he’s basically the nature version of a techbro. Maybe it hits different when you’re a woman and you know his mom and sisters were doing his laundry and packing him lunches?

          But yes, there are definitely some media that have an “age expiration date” for people.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

      There was an Indian-American female novelist on Vox who proclaimed Roth to be a “minority writer” that surprised me.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I take pride in the hand I had in the 787, the 747-8, & the 737MAX. But I also have a disdain for how badly the execs screwed up two of those programs.

      I think it’s good to have some pride in the work one contributes, but not too much, lest it consume a part of you when things go to sh*t.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I think he’s less talking about someone doing creative work, and more about someone whose job is “pull the lever to dump hot wax in the crayon molds, close the lever when they’re full, do that eight hours a day five days a week fifty weeks a year forty years”. Or “push plastic rivets through holes to attach a bumper to a frame, that’s your job, two hundred bumpers a shift, that’s your WHOLE JOB FOR YOUR WHOLE LIFE.”Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Yeah, I could see how that would grind a person down.

          Although (and this is obviously getting past the essay you linked, which I did like), having that job for your whole life… that’s a choice one makes. Granted, in days past, that choice was much more constrained. Once you started down the path of mindless, repetitive work, making a different choice was quite difficult. But the ability to choose something different gets easier every year.

          Alternatively, one can remember that work is work, and one can have interests outside of the job. Sure, corporate leadership would love to have you committed body and soul, but that’s not an obligation.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    1. I remember people complaining that Holden was a whiny, unsympathetic loser when I was in high school in 1995. This was long before woke and blue check twitter were things.

    2. Freddie is probably correct that some books are being unfairly maligned because they are written by men for men as a primary audience especially angry young men.

    3. Online literary types are also correct that there is a certain kind of smooth operator that is not really a reader but does have a handful of books that he likes to go to in order to try and bed some young, literary or literarish women. These books, for better or for worse, seem to be Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace; the Man Who Confused Is Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks; and certain others that make the list of “don’t date this guy.”Report

    • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      oliver sacks is on the no no list? why? (do they know he was gay?) dfw is definitely a warning sign, perhaps several…

      caufield was the first literary character i’d read who i actively hated in high school for just being himself. i was rooting for him to die at the end of the book. to be slightly more fair, at that age there was no way i was going to read a book about a rich kid who i didn’t hate – his suffering was entirely self-inflicted and his lack of material concerns was beyond glaring. i know that’s the point, but c’mon – there’s ways to do unlikable (and even deeply evil!) main characters who aren’t also deeply boring and simultaneously annoying. (lolita, the collector, the sailor who fell from grace with the sea, and so on and so on)

      it didn’t help i had read portrait of the artist as a young man in the same year, which is (very roughly) the same concept but so much more expertly executed that it’s not even slightly funny.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to dhex says:

        Oliver Sacks loses points for being a cousin of Abba Eban. ;).Report

      • InMD in reply to dhex says:

        Can I ask a serious question? Are people for real judging potential mates by what random crap is on their bookshelves?* If so I almost feel bad for them being such a hilarious combination of pretentious and superficial.** I’ve been married for 5 years and out of the pool for about 7 but when I was out there, I was really out there, and I can’t think of reading habits ever coming up.

        *I get I mentioned ending a relationship for a really stupid reason further up but that was all about me, not her!

        **I have never read nor do I own either of these books.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

          Personally, I believe that the bookshelf post goes something like this:

          1) Girl
          2) Boy
          3) They meet cute
          4) Fall in love (maybe have sex)
          5) She spends time in his dorm room/apartment/house
          6) Break up. Quite often *BAD* break up.
          HERE IS WHERE THE BOOKSHELF POST IS WRITTEN: “I should have known that it would not have worked out. He had a poster of Nirvana. In 2021.”Report

          • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

            Now this sounds plausible.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

              From there it’s simple to see what happens:

              “What red flags have *YOU* seen?”

              “Oh, my gosh! He loved Fight Club!”

              “My ex-boyfriend thought that Bukowski was insightful! He explained the title to ‘Ham on Rye’ THREE TIMES!”

              “My ex- would not shut up about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!”

              “I asked my ex who was the last female author he read and he said that he had just finished Paglia’s Glittering Images! I said, well, what about before that and he said Crystal Wright and I didn’t know who that was so I asked well, what about before *THAT* and he said that he read de Beauvoir’s works in college and I said that that didn’t count and asked about books that he wasn’t assigned and he said that he wasn’t sure but maybe the Harry Potter books. I should have seen that that was a *HUGE* red flag!”Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                So I should really be understanding this as post hoc reinterpretations of the numerous and far more mundane reasons relationships fail.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                Until you have reason to believe otherwise, I believe that this ought to be your default assumption.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

                Okay, so I have a long distance ladyfriend who writes movie reviews for NBC. She reviewed Promising Young Woman, very positively in fact:

                We had a heated argument about this highly controversial movie over one completely trivial and unimportant detail- the faux sensitive douche character (played by McLovin!) who nearly rapes the main character in the opening scene tries to impress her with his knowledge of David Foster Wallace, and to me, that was a little *too* on the nose. I’d already known it as a cliche “red flag” on the internet and my argument was, in an era in which active literacy is at an all-time low, is this really where we want to start dumping on people for reading certain writers?

                She argued that the myth is real, basically- a certain type of dude really does name-drop DFW and they tend to be douchy.

                But, again, I say people should be encouraged to read a damn book for once.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Rufus F. says:

                The type of dude who name drops DFW also inspired the Zizek, where a hipster man tried to impress a woman by mentioning Zizek and the woman pretends not to know who Zizek is. Trying to impress literrary and intellectual women with you knowledge is something that men do, often very badly.*

                *Many years ago, a friend attempted to introduce me to a young college professor but told me “Lee, you might actual know more than she does about her area of expertise but pretend otherwise and agree politely with whatever she says.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

                I’m sure you’ve read this already. It’s about Dana Schwartz, the writer behind the GuyInYourMFA twitter account.

                I’m not going to say that there isn’t a type.

                There is. There totally is.

                BUT! It’s usually apparent before you see the Bret Easton Ellis on the nightstand next to his futon.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Terrible writing so often bejewels itself in the trappings of J. D. Salinger and Hemingway and Updike and Cheever and shouts, “Me, too!”

                In order: Okay, Yeah definitely, uh, maybe…, Say what?!Report

              • Dhex in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Fwiw I think you’re right about it being too on the nose, but it is also a person. I’ve only met two dfw superfans and they were both colossal jerks. (holden Caulfield at 35?)

                However, I’m sure someone has said this about me and Mishima. We are all someone else’s guy in the mfa.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Dhex says:

                Mishima actually attempted a far right coup to restore the Emperor and committed seppuku. Seems a lot serious of a case than others.Report

              • Dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Pobody’s Nerfect!

                Still immaterial to his work’s value as literature tho. Yet central to the underlying drive of his entire body of work.

                The sailor who fell from grace with the sea is so good. Strong recommend.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Dhex says:

                Yeah, my bookstore friends have said there’s one type of dude who tells you they read David Foster Wallace in the same tone of voice that they tell you how much they can bench. “I read this book and it was SO long!”Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:

                “But, again, I say people should be encouraged to read a damn book for once.”

                I would draw a line at the Turner DiariesReport

        • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

          This is a little odd considering what you wrote and revealed above.

          How much do you read for pleasure? If reading is your primary form of entertainment or pleasure than I imagine what your mate reads is of importance. Like I imagine there are people who say, I can’t marry this person “I love the Yankees and h/she is a Mets fan.” I’m not really into sports except as a social thing you watch with friends and play at times but for many people these are serious businesses.Report

          • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I’m certainly being a bit facetious here, but to be clear about my anecdote, I was judging myself, not drawing some Very Important Conclusions about another person.

            And at the end of the day it’s up to people to make their own romantic choices. All I’m saying is sometimes that book is on the shelf because it was required for some class in undergrad, and says nothing about a person at all. Not everyone is so involved in this bizarre, meta, Extremely Online culture and its various demonologies.Report

            • dhex in reply to InMD says:

              i definitely know people who have made judgments like that based on reading (or listening) habits on display in someone else’s apt, etc. i worked with someone many years ago who had a string of decent dates with a guy who then revealed he hated reading – to a poet! she bounced, and likely rightfully so.

              some of the online stories are likely performative internet’ing – e.g. “this date was so bad, they had bad taste in books and liked immoral authors!” it’s a little too “i overheard a liberal in a coffee shop…” style and a little too neat. it fits well with the sort of moralistic just-so stories people love too much to fact-check, reinforces their worldview and confirms their biases, etc.

              if you believe that choices about art not only reflect but also reify one’s moral position, then this sort of story is merely reflecting this obvious truth. it fits well with the dominant theory of mind of the last 40 years – “my beliefs are subtle, difficult to spread, and deeply moral. their beliefs are superficial, wicked, and can infect minds of the young and the elderly.”

              if this sounds like evangelical posturing from the 1980s, well, yeah, everyone is an evangelical now in terms of how they view culture. it’s soooooo great.

              one of the worst things about the interconnected communications relay that is cyborg’ing the world – so i can find people reinforcing this belief about beliefs all over the place…which of course reinforces my beliefs about these beliefs, and have you ever looked at a five dollar bill on weed?Report

              • InMD in reply to dhex says:

                Oh believe me, I’ve spent plenty of time looking at a $5 bill on weed!

                And I concede your point about the poet, that at a certain level consumption habits can be a proxy for compatibility and lifestyle preferences. That said, I don’t get this apparent internalizing of a very narrow set of feminist-nerd-political premises and projecting them into one’s own dating life as though they were all unquestionably true. And to be clear I’d say the same things about doing this with whatever flavor of self-absorbed male victimhood culture you can find out there.

                I’m also sure you’re right that much of this is just so internet-ing. But I think it’s worth saying that people who obsess over these things are probably not sufficiently emotionally available for a relationship nor mature enough to manage the mundane realities of them.

                Like, I got over my wife’s Patriots fandom. She has managed to deal with my box of cult horror movie DVDs. Rather than assume that all women endorse Amanda Marcotte’s worldview, and adopt it themselves, these guys need to stop going back to the same type of lady and expecting a different result.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                If she’s reading Elizabeth Wurtzel? Run the other direction.

                Not only is it a red flag, it’s a red flag from 1995.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                Some dangers are truly timeless.Report

              • dhex in reply to InMD says:

                yeah, i think the i don’t read thing is a huger deal for people whose entire life revolves around the power of the written word. or if someone enjoys the outdoors and their potential partner is allergic to trees and air. or someone who owns a craft beer brewery tries dating an alcoholic in recovery. (that last one is a bit more stark)

                or, to use an older example, religion. and if political affiliations stand in for religious affiliations of yore, then it’s a lot more like a devout catholic going against their family to marry a lutheran, etc. or at this point, more like marrying a buddhist or jain.

                a lot of the other stuff is definitely more of a question of taste. perhaps most of it? i waiver on that point, as (very hypothetically, i’ve been married forevuurrrrrrr) i can see scenarios in which certain core values are reflected in one’s choice of art(s), but very few of those core values are summed up in said choices.

                at least, one hopes so? hopefully someone is not so shallow as to be so easily contained up in a bumper sticker-like melange of “see this stuff? it sums me up.”Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

          I was definitely not out there… but this one time I was reading After Virtue on a plane the very pretty young woman sitting next to me struck up a conversation for the rest of the flight. As we were preparing to land she asked if I’d like to continue the conversation over coffee… and I said I couldn’t because my gf was picking me up and… wait… oh no, I just got it.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to dhex says:

        I don’t think it is Oliver Sacks per se but something about that book specifically and I saw it on one list so maybe it is not as wide spread as much as others.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      2. I think there are lots of different things going on with this. The biggest one is that there is a sense that “books written by men for men, especially white men” had their proverbial day in the sun. In order for other groups to have their day in the sun, these authors and the people they wrote for must recede into the background a bit. A lot of the battle against cultural appropriation is also about allowing non-white men to have their day in the sun writing about their cultures. The day in the sun thing is also why there is at least some coldness towards Jews in Intersectional circles. Jews are another group perceived as having their day in the sun and now it’s time for other groups to have their day in the sun.

      The secondary thing is that many people really do believe that books written by men for men really do teach bad and harmful things that need to be regulated out of existence. They are toxic and shouldn’t be tolerated. Literature goes into and out of phases where the primary point of the novel is either to advance politics and society or to advance aesthetics. A lot of what Oscar Wilde was rebelling against was the idea that there was good books or bad books when he thought a good book was just well written rather than supporting any particular moral. I think with the Woke crowd, we returned to the idea that books must teach morals to be good to an extent.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Another 2 and 3 thought, I’m also wondering whether we are just more aware of these debates because of the Internet 2.0. Before Internet 2.0, there were probably several people in Proto-Woke spaces that hated Hemingway, DFW, J.D. Salinger, and company. It’s just that you wouldn’t encounter them unless you had to deal with their physical spaces, mainly college lecture rooms and academic journals. These days you can encounter them on the Internet and they write in plain English.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There’s a surprising amount of stuff that isn’t really new, it’s just that we never knew how it happened everywhere, to everybody, on every day.

        Someone pointed out that ubiquitous recording is going to lead to a general coarsening of life because we’ll realize that people being rotten to service workers, that cops hassling black men, that dudes talking down to women, that these things aren’t uniquely awful events but kind of…just how life goes, and we’ll stop being angry and critical of them.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “Online literary types are also correct that there is a certain kind of smooth operator that is not really a reader but does have a handful of books that he likes to go to in order to try and bed some young, literary or literarish women.”

      Which is also not a new thing that the Online Society invented. I remember reading columns from the 1970s with jokes about dudes in college dropping lines from Sarte to score.Report

  7. Brandon Berg says:

    LD9: Tens of thousands of workers walked off the job, wildcat strikes broke out, and angry crowds were met with live fire from the authorities.

    Link is broken.

    That aside, these union hagiographies pretty consistently misrepresent the context in which attacks on strikers occurred. The idea that employers or government would shoot at strikers to intimidate them into going back to work never made a lot of sense to me, and as I started looking into the details of these incidents, I realized that that was because that wasn’t what was happening. What actually happened in every case I’ve looked into is that strikers were violently suppressing attempts to continue work while they were on strike, including by property damage and assaults on replacement workers and law enforcement officers attempting to keep the peace.

    Nineteenth-century unions routinely engaged in terrorist activities in order to suppress competition and prevent employers from operating while they were on strike. This wasn’t just a case of a few bad apples—violence was the only real tool unions had for suppressing competition until the government gave them legal tools to do so.Report