Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Literature--Real Literature--is Still a Man's Game.

The expression 'man' here refers more to certain qualities of hardness, pitilessness and such that I, who lack them, tend to think of as extreme masculine characteristics. There are certainly plenty of women who have them in one degree or another. The great delusion of so many is that the fields of genuine literature and the other arts are some kind of refuge for soft, sensitive people, a cheap and painless route to the acceptance and esteem they have always craved but never merited. Such beauty as exists in life and art largely depend on the extent to which it rewards hardness and rigor and punishes softness and laziness...

I Am Not Going to Presume to Give Financial Advice But...

I am not the first person to notice this, but it has always struck me as an especial peculiarity of American life that in certain areas the more spectacular the problems of one's own making that one has at least temporarily escaped, the more credibility one has in guiding others away from or out of the same pitballs. Thus it is considered reasonable to hire or anoint people who have had the most extreme problems with drugs themselves to counsel others on the best ways to avoid or overcome similar habits, as opposed to someone who never had such problems in the first place. Likewise there is an American mutation of Christianity in which the extent of sin in which the preacher wallowed in the days before he developed a greater intimacy with Jesus is a far greater selling point with potential congregates than the rigor of his theological training. Of late we have seen the rise of the Dave Ramsey/Suze Orman style financial guru who once had six figure credit card debt but now earn fortunes browbeating the hapless middle and lower middle classes with such brilliant insights as "don't buy the plasma TV if you can't do it in cash". One thing most of these pop money managers seem to be in agreement about is that spending any more money on education than the minimal amount necessary to get certified in some kind of practical skill leading to an immediate upgrade in pay is a cardinal sin. This assumes an attitude towards education of course that I know a lot of people have, but which is a symptom of a wider trend among a lot of middle class non-Jewish whites that I can't see not having increasingly unhappy consequences for them as a group moving on through the next fifty years or so.

It seems to me that families and groups who expend a large percentage of their resources and energy on education for their younger members--a population in which certain foreign and, in our country, foreign-born groups are disproportionately represented--are thriving comparatively well, and in institutions and fields that increasingly seem to be failing to engage or develop the talents of the native born. I do not downplay the expense involved even in obtaining decent schooling (or the ridicule that some fortunate and superbrilliant members of the creative and intellectual elite have the luxury of pouring out on formal schooling), but if it is one's primary commitment, I think it is not yet so far beyond the reach of even the moderately ambitious or talented (and certainly not of the indisputably so). The amount of student loan debt people have now, especially when combined with the dissatisfaction so many express with the results of their educations, is a concern. Still, though I can't find the figures readily, the last report on the subject I read indicated that the schools with the highest rate of loan defaults by far were places like cosmetology schools and community colleges which one assumes tended to attract more people with a pretty desultory approach to education and finances than would be regarded as normal by the well-meaning and not so well-meaning factions of the establishment. The $50,000 a year private colleges much ridiculed by the pop financial advisors had comparatively low rates of student loan default. I suspect this may be because they take more concern not to bury their students with cruel levels of debt than what frankly seem to me to be the somewhat shady operations at the fringes of the education complex. As to whether the expensive private colleges are too much of a burden on the students' parents, assuming they have the resources to pay for them, is of course something they have to decide. I confess that because I am only partially well-educated myself, I tend to believe there is some great secret or nirvana that having more through knowledge, accomplishments, talents, exclusively super-intelligent friends, co-workers and family members, etc, will bring you that must make life something spectacular on a day to day basis, and without which it is rather dull, so my instinct is to overspend on things like schools, which are the best access to the secrets that seem to be available, to see what it is there. Other people obviously do not feel this emptiness within them and don't need the psychic healing that such tokens of experience may or may not bring.

I got a little off course there. I still think it is a concern that so many mainstream white Americans are becoming turned off or disillusioned by the education system, to the point in many instances of abandoning it intellectually if not literally. Jews, Indians, Chinese, Koreans, do not seem to suffer this kind of disillusionment in anywhere near comparable numbers. Why? Some will say it is because they are inherently smarter, but even if this is so, among gentile whites the really smart people have often been among the most likely to be disillusioned/dissatisfied and to rebel in some way, which does not seem to be on the whole the case among these other groups (obviously there are exceptions to every generality).

Given that it has been a long time since I have posted and I don't have a lot of open hours for posting in my immediate future I am going to put this up and use the rest of the material I had for this post later on.

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