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Thread: How did Harold Bloom rise to such a level of eminence?

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I was wondering how far one acre would go toward supporting a family.... OK, that policy was a discriminatory economic advantage practice instead of a "hiring practice". That seems like a distinction without a difference.
    No, plenty of non-slaves had already been or would be allocated free land by the government (much to the Indians' chagrin). Terms varied depending on where you were and what the political situation was. Sometimes you had to farm it, sometimes not. But regardless, it wasn't a discriminatory hiring practice and does not affect my opinion about affirmative action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    All competitive hiring practices are "discriminatory" (as I'm sure Pompey is well aware).
    Yes, but they aren't all race based (needless personal reference omitted)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Would it be reasonable (to use just one obvious example) to hire only black actors to play Martin Luther King in a movie?
    Try it and see how many people come to your movie. But pass a law mandating an what actor's race has to be? You really want to live in that world, Ecurb?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I think many people would agree that it would be reasonable to admit a black kid from the inner city to Harvard who scored 1300 on his SATs over a white kid from Choate school who scored 1400 (other qualifications being equal).
    Some would, others wouldn't. In a liberal democracy we can (still) disagree with one another. And both sides have political recourse. God bless America.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    The problem with affirmative action programs based on race is that many black applicants might have gone to Choate, and had parents who were M.D.s. So they might benefit unfairly from programs designed to help the first kid.
    No, the problem is that it's morally relativistic. Race discrimination wrong. Jacking around with it is only going to prolong things. Time to be done with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Nonetheless, whining about "reverse racism" is pathetic.
    You're the only one talking about "reverse racism" (whatever the hell that is).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    OK. You didn't get into Harvard. Go to Dartmouth.
    Who says I didn't get into Harvard? ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    (I'm not saying you're whining, Pompey, but your "we shall overcome" slogan could be interpreted that way, although I would never make such an interpretation because it would be uncharitable.)
    Ah well, no reason to speculate. We Shall Overcome was a protest song from the civil rights movement.

    We shall overcome
    We shall overcome
    We shall overcome some day.
    Oh, oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
    That shall overcome some day

    It was sung over and over and over in near hysterica at Dr. King's funeral in 1968, which I watched on TV while my mother sat next to me and sobbed uncontrollably. Seeing your mother cry like that is upsetting when you are a little boy, so it made a big impression on me. It has long been my standard response when confronted with racism. It just means love is going to win eventually. We shall overcome.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sfKtyertvKM

    Still gives me chills.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  2. #62
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post


    Ah well, no reason to speculate. We Shall Overcome was a protest song from the civil rights movement.

    We shall overcome
    We shall overcome
    We shall overcome some day.
    Oh, oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
    That shall overcome some day

    It was sung over and over and over in near hysterica at Dr. King's funeral in 1968, which I watched on TV while my mother sat next to me and sobbed uncontrollably. Seeing your mother cry like that is upsetting when you are a little boy, so it made a big impression on me. It has long been my standard response when confronted with racism. It just means love is going to win eventually. We shall overcome.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sfKtyertvKM

    Still gives me chills.

    I'll defer to your knowledge of the post-Civil-War period. I also admire your faith in love, a faith that I try to share, often unsuccessfully. We may disagree on which policies, some of which are laws (always enforced by coercion and violence) some of which are mere policies (which require less moral certainty to be appealing) best further our common goal.

    I'll post more tomorrow.

  3. #63
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    There's no entrance exams, students in Quebec colleges receive what is called an R-Score which is a relative grading model where your score is higher based on how much better you do than the average of your class and in relation to the class's average grades on government high school leaving exams. Entrance requirements for McGill, where I did my undergrad are typically in the 30+ R-score range, which is the top 15% of students roughly.

    http://www.bemarianopolis.ca/choose-us/r-score/
    https://www.mcgill.ca/applying/requirements/qc

    My R score in college was 33, I went to Marianopolis which is a private college, but most students attend public pre-uni colleges that are essentially free and admit everyone.
    Thanks, Pip.
    Unfortunately this score system wouldn´t work here, we have to stick to the exams, which is something very stressy for the students. What I find interesting in the system is that you have this pre-uni period as preparation for the university . I suppose it tries to bridge the gulf which often exists between the secondary school and the university.
    By the way i visited Mc Gill many years ago, when I was in Quebec.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I'll defer to your knowledge of the post-Civil-War period. I also admire your faith in love, a faith that I try to share, often unsuccessfully. We may disagree on which policies, some of which are laws (always enforced by coercion and violence) some of which are mere policies (which require less moral certainty to be appealing) best further our common goal.

    I'll post more tomorrow.
    And I admire your integrity. Now if we could only get this polarized people to see its common goals despite differing opinions that would be something. It's going to be a rocky road ahead, I'm afraid.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    To quote Pompey, "how dumb do you think I am?" Of course an author's cultural background affects what he writes and how he writes about it. For example, if an author is a native English-speaker, he may very well write in English.

    But if the writer's culture affects how he writes, isn't it reasonable to focus on his writing, instead of the biographical details of his (or her) life? Surely the goal is to promote interest in a diverse set of literary styles, subjects, and points of view? By focusing on biographical details we may accomplish a similar goal, but we risk the kind of discrimination against which Pompey is inveighing.
    I think you are mixing details of his life (which are interesting, it is not because shakespeare didn't exist that we have to pretend Dickens didn't as well, and I think some of the spark that brings interest to an author can be details about his life) with studying from a "race perspective". While you care about details, it is more Derrida than Dr.Johnson. And as you said it works. I believe that all forms of criticism and approaches are welcome, the seven blind guys and the elephant kind of approach.

    As the criticism, Pompey aside, politics will make this criticism ever come. Now, Pompey and Pip... one says "I am adding", other points "you are excluding" while they are talking about the same act basically. I am sure Pompey accepts that under the limitation of a course, you have to select the works you will deal and it does not need always to be "the best of the best". For example, Borges course in English literature does not have a class for Tennyson, Keats, Shelley but he talks a lot about Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It is a selection that is odd if the critery is the best quality authors, but is it bad? Borges have more affinity to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and uses him to cover the period, or what he wanted to cover about the period. So, there is obviously a middleground and the notion that you have to be open to criticism in any extreme case. To anything.

    If we focus on authors' biographies, wouldn't a course in English (language) literature exclude Conrad and Nabokov?
    I think it will be easy to exclude both from a good english course, even if the critery is not biography.
    #foratemer

  6. #66
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    Well, since my name has been taken in vain.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    So, there is obviously a middleground and the notion that you have to be open to criticism in any extreme case. To anything.
    Yes, fine, as long as we've all read Rules for Radicals and understand that liberal democracy is to be hanged by the garter of its most sacred principles. So a postmodern authoritarian says: "Let all fish swim in the aquarium of free thought. My piranha is hungry."

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I believe that all forms of criticism and approaches are welcome, the seven blind guys and the elephant kind of approach.
    The problem is that Derrida is Nietzsche reduced to Marx (and ultimately to DeSade). "Each of those blind men wants something from that elephant they're feeling up," says Nietzsche. "They say they want knowledge. They're regular philosophers. Philosophers don't know what they want, yet they can't help but tell you. Just look where their fingers are going. What they want is power. But power is complicated. It is what makes us moral."

    "Yes, power!" cries Marx who has been getting a little deaf lately. "There are no blind men but only revolutionaries at perpetual war with the elephant. If any of them tell you they are blind men--or men of any kind--get rid of them!"

    "Yes, get rid of them," cries Derrida, deafer still. "Where are the post normative blind women? Where is the blind woman of color? The white European blind man is the elephant! Get rid of him first! Cut him from the curriculum!"

    The white European blind man grasps the elephant's tail. Furrowing his brow, he says: "An elephant is like a whip."

    "Kiss the whip," says DeSade.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Now, Pompey and Pip... one says "I am adding", other points "you are excluding" while they are talking about the same act basically. I am sure Pompey accepts that under the limitation of a course, you have to select the works you will deal and it does not need always to be "the best of the best".
    As I've said from the start, texts would necessarily depend on the class. But I add that it would require a return to the grand old literature survey classes that have (predictably) fallen from favor with the postmoderns. And of course a diversity of thought among the more focused classes from other than Otherwise it's just going to be another "how dumb do you think I am?" mug's game. Gee, white European males don't fit into any of our classes (since we only teach classes on decolonized post normative women of color). Who knew? It would be Pip's decolonized classroom writ large.

    So no, we're really not talking about the same thing. I'm talking about making room for everyone (even the piranhas) and he's talking about pushing special targets (connected to special victims) into the margins.

    My apologies to Pip for taking his name in vain, especially since he seems to have left the conversation. As before my comments are not directed at him but at woke authoritarianism, here in the handy stiletto of postmodern literary theory.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Well, since my name has been taken in vain.



    Yes, fine, as long as we've all read Rules for Radicals and understand that liberal democracy is to be hanged by the garter of its most sacred principles. So a postmodern authoritarian says: "Let all fish swim in the aquarium of free thought. My piranha is hungry."



    The problem is that Derrida is Nietzsche reduced to Marx (and ultimately to DeSade). "Each of those blind men wants something from that elephant they're feeling up," says Nietzsche. "They say they want knowledge. They're regular philosophers. Philosophers don't know what they want, yet they can't help but tell you. Just look where their fingers are going. What they want is power. But power is complicated. It is what makes us moral."

    "Yes, power!" cries Marx who has been getting a little deaf lately. "There are no blind men but only revolutionaries at perpetual war with the elephant. If any of them tell you they are blind men--or men of any kind--get rid of them!"

    "Yes, get rid of them," cries Derrida, deafer still. "Where are the post normative blind women? Where is the blind woman of color? The white European blind man is the elephant! Get rid of him first! Cut him from the curriculum!"

    The white European blind man grasps the elephant's tail. Furrowing his brow, he says: "An elephant is like a whip."

    "Kiss the whip," says DeSade.



    As I've said from the start, texts would necessarily depend on the class. But I add that it would require a return to the grand old literature survey classes that have (predictably) fallen from favor with the postmoderns. And of course a diversity of thought among the more focused classes from other than Otherwise it's just going to be another "how dumb do you think I am?" mug's game. Gee, white European males don't fit into any of our classes (since we only teach classes on decolonized post normative women of color). Who knew? It would be Pip's decolonized classroom writ large.

    So no, we're really not talking about the same thing. I'm talking about making room for everyone (even the piranhas) and he's talking about pushing special targets (connected to special victims) into the margins.

    My apologies to Pip for taking his name in vain, especially since he seems to have left the conversation. As before my comments are not directed at him but at woke authoritarianism, here in the handy stiletto of postmodern literary theory.
    I don't see the relevance of affirmative action to the topic, if I'm picking an author of colour for a purpose in a curriculum it is because their text is a superior example of what I want to teach. Everyone seems to be responding to a strawman version of what decolonization means without ever clearly articulating exactly what are to be the agreed upon means of determining appropriate classroom topics.

    Decolonization is not the process of exterminating or excluding European culture from the curriculum. A common mantra is rather to teach with a mind to: respect, relationship, reciprocity, and responsibility. No one is seeking to eliminate white authors for being white from English classrooms, but rather to be more mindful of what we are doing with our institutional power as educators to acknowledge diverse viewpoints.

    The only thing that will determine whether an author survives in the curriculum is if they continue to resonate with research. Surveys are in decline for multiple reasons, but the primary one is the growth of specialization in the last 50 years. Literary scholars focus on very narrow topics for their research and their comprehensive exams for teaching competency are relatively narrow. My own comprehensive exam for my PhD only covered 1660-1750. The diversity of scholarship arising concurrently with a declining level of literacy amongst freshmen means that English Departments feel the need to teach basic reading and writing skills more than a broad historical base.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    I don't see the relevance of affirmative action to the topic, if I'm picking an author of colour for a purpose in a curriculum it is because their text is a superior example of what I want to teach.
    Neither do I, although I enjoyed talking to Ecurb about it. He can speak for himself about why he brought it up, but I don't think he was making a strawman argument. It was more like an appeal to common practice. I also think it was directed at me more than you.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    Everyone seems to be responding to a strawman version of what decolonization means without ever clearly articulating exactly what are to be the agreed upon means of determining appropriate classroom topics.
    I have not advanced any strawmen. I have not really given any thought to decolonizing a classroom. As I have said, I am concerned about authors being silenced as a consequence of race (and sex) discrimination, especially as a consequence of postmodern literary theory. I have also made it clear that I have not been directing my comments at you personally.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    Decolonization is not the process of exterminating or excluding European culture from the curriculum. A common mantra is rather to teach with a mind to: respect, relationship, reciprocity, and responsibility. No one is seeking to eliminate white authors for being white from English classrooms, but rather to be more mindful of what we are doing with our institutional power as educators to acknowledge diverse viewpoints.
    And yet, as you admitted, they are being eliminated. As Nietzsche says in my satire, watch where the fingers go.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    The only thing that will determine whether an author survives in the curriculum is if they continue to resonate with research.
    And if the research and research institutions themselves become corrupt? What would happen, for example, to a researcher who defied the fetish of racialist diversity? That is a rhetorical question since we both know the answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    Surveys are in decline for multiple reasons, but the primary one is the growth of specialization in the last 50 years.
    Yup. There go the fingers.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    Literary scholars focus on very narrow topics for their research and their comprehensive exams for teaching competency are relatively narrow.
    I agree. It's a big part of the problem--just not a coincidental one.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    My own comprehensive exam for my PhD only covered 1660-1750.
    It's a fascinating period, the Restoration. I'm sure you are an outstanding lecturer.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    The diversity of scholarship arising concurrently with a declining level of literacy amongst freshmen means that English Departments feel the need to teach basic reading and writing skills more than a broad historical base.
    Hmmmm. Now I wonder how we could fix that.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-22-2019 at 06:08 PM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  9. #69
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I wasn't including "affirmative action" in my post to argue with any particular person. I think it's fair to compare an attempt to diversify a curriculum by including a percentage of minority authors with attempting to diversify a student body or a work place by including members of minority groups. The comparison doesn't seem particularly far fetched. (All analogies, of course, compare things that are different.)

    Of course a teacher should choose texts that provide examples of what the teacher wants to teach, and should also choose texts (if possible) that both the students and the teacher will enjoy. Enthusiasm on the part of both parties will enhance the educational experience.

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    And that simple answer seems perfectly reasonable to me.

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    Having an educator be the one to "choose texts" (Ecurb) "because their text is a superior example of what I want to teach" (OP) is inconsistent with adopting a "percentage of minority authors" (mandatory if Affirmative Action is the standard). It would not be a choice but a tyranny in sheep's clothing--neither "fair" (Ecurb) nor "reasonable" (Ennison).

    Of course, in good Marxist fashion, an educator could always choose texts from a legally mandated group (here the inherently racist "authors of color" category). That would be rather like what the CCP did to Hong Kong when, after luring them into reunification with the promise of free elections, they informed them that Peking would let them know who the nominees were. #HDDYTIA? (How Dumb Do You Think I Am?)

    There are things we can do to bring more voices to the curriculum without purging others (if we agree that is our shared goal), but mandatory percentages of racially defined identity groups are not going to get us there. As we have seen, there is already an impetus to exclude "white European males" by throwing up one's hands and saying, "Hey, space!"
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-23-2019 at 08:17 AM.
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  12. #72
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I wrote that the comparison was "fair", not the practice. Nor do I think all "affirmative action" must be "mandatory" (that's a matter of definition, and there's no need to argue about it). Although I stand by my position that choosing texts because of the biographical details of the author's life (including his or her race) is not ideal, I might be persuaded otherwise. One reason teachers give for choosing books by minority authors is that they think their minority students will be motivated to educate themselves by the example set by authors of their own race. I have no idea whether this is correct or not, but if it is correct, then wouldn't choosing texts on this (albeit racist) basis be reasonable? Isn't the goal to motivate and educate children? Perhaps the greater good is to use (mildly) unfair practices if they yield superior results. (I'll grant that Kant might disagree.)

    Let's suppose that African-American children read texts by African-American authors more willingly, carefully, and mindfully than texts by white authors. Let's further suppose that the goal of the teacher is to choose those texts that best educate his students. Of course it's fair to argue that the students are (in a minor way) racist. But I'm not sure the teacher is when he chooses those texts that educate his students most effectively. He's just adapting to circumstances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Although I stand by my position that choosing texts because of the biographical details of the author's life (including his or her race) is not ideal, I might be persuaded otherwise. One reason teachers give for choosing books by minority authors is that they think their minority students will be motivated to educate themselves by the example set by authors of their own race. I have no idea whether this is correct or not, but if it is correct, then wouldn't choosing texts on this (albeit racist) basis be reasonable? Isn't the goal to motivate and educate children? Perhaps the greater good is to use (mildly) unfair practices if they yield superior results. (I'll grant that Kant might disagree.)
    It would not be racist at all. As I've said from the start, teachers ought to choose texts in accordance with the needs of their classes. What is racist is when that admirable goal is used to exclude other authors on a racial basis--typically with the excuses we have seen here.

    Go back and look. First came the breezy assertion that cutting "white European males" from the curriculum was a requirement (among others) for the political/postmodern project of the decolonized classroom. When that was challenged as racist, the first line of defence was giving voice to the marginalized. This is an especially pernicious excuse since giving voice to the marginalized is often an admirable goal. But here it masks a racial purge to achieve a revolutionized standard of racial purity in the curriculum. When That doesn't work, all is denied, shoulders are shrugged, and the cry of "Hey, space!" goes forth. I've heard the same excuses many times.

    There is a simple solution to the "room at the inn" roadblock, but it requires wanting to solve the problem rather than using it as a smokescreen for a political agenda (I'm not saying Pip is doing that, by the way, but many are). The solution is a return to the freshman survey classes you probably remember from college, as preqequisite to the specialty classes. Yup, that's all.

    Pip hit the nail on the head when he said:

    Surveys are in decline for multiple reasons, but the primary one is the growth of specialization in the last 50 years. Literary scholars focus on very narrow topics for their research and their comprehensive exams for teaching competency are relatively narrow...The diversity of scholarship arising concurrently with a declining level of literacy amongst freshmen means that English Departments feel the need to teach basic reading and writing skills more than a broad historical base.

    And on case you missed it:

    The diversity of scholarship arising concurrently with a declining level of literacy amongst freshmen means that English Departments feel the need to teach basic reading and writing skills more than a broad historical base.

    And that's great news because it means that the problem is solvable if we want to solve it. It simply requires that students master grammar in, um, grammar school, "basic reading and writing skills" in secondary school, and that those things be required for college admission. So the question becomes: why are we not doing this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Let's suppose that African-American children read texts by African-American authors more willingly, carefully, and mindfully than texts by white authors. Let's further suppose that the goal of the teacher is to choose those texts that best educate his students. Of course it's fair to argue that the students are (in a minor way) racist. But I'm not sure the teacher is when he chooses those texts that educate his students most effectively. He's just adapting to circumstances.
    It would not be racism in a minor or major way. You are preaching to the choir.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-23-2019 at 08:16 PM.
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  14. #74
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    . So the question becomes: why are we not doing this?


    .

    I think that there are several questions involved Prior to WW2 (I haven't looked up the stats -- I'm guessing) maybe 20% of high school students went on to college. For a number of reasons (GI bill, better economy) now maybe three times as many students go on to college (if anyone wants to research the stats, I'd appreciate it). Now, Pompey thinks our educational system is failing -- but I'm not so sure of that. I'm guessing the top 20% if high school students have about the same literacy skills now as they did then. The difference is that the next lower 50% of students are now going on the University. Is this a bad thing? We have a rich country; we can afford to pay for a delayed adolescence. What's the problem? College students today may not be as intellectually competent as students 80 years ago, but that's because they wouldn't have gone to college 80 years ago. Will denying them that opportunity really benefit society?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I think that there are several questions involved Prior to WW2 (I haven't looked up the stats -- I'm guessing) maybe 20% of high school students went on to college. For a number of reasons (GI bill, better economy) now maybe three times as many students go on to college (if anyone wants to research the stats, I'd appreciate it). Now, Pompey thinks our educational system is failing -- but I'm not so sure of that. I'm guessing the top 20% if high school students have about the same literacy skills now as they did then. The difference is that the next lower 50% of students are now going on the University. Is this a bad thing? We have a rich country; we can afford to pay for a delayed adolescence. What's the problem? College students today may not be as intellectually competent as students 80 years ago, but that's because they wouldn't have gone to college 80 years ago. Will denying them that opportunity really benefit society?


    So let's not deny 'em the opportunity. Let's teach 'em.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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