They don’t even need ideas

I thought this said something important about the risk to old fashioned democracy that the internet is posing:

By contrast, in an age of limitless bandwidth and ubiquitous data capture, the challenge for politicians (or anyone else) is to get noticed and exert influence. This calls for a very different set of political and personal talents: confrontation, wit, defiance, spontaneity and rule-breaking. The politician who wants to target the swing voter via television tries to seem as normal as possible. The politician who seeks to mobilise support online will do precisely the opposite. While it’s true that Farage has made mileage out of his ‘ordinary’ cultural habits (‘a fag and a pint’), a Trumpian refusal to play by the rules is his more potent quality.

The internet is an anti-hegemonic technology. It grants far more power to the consensus-breaker than to the consensus-maker. As the data analytics industry understands, it is a brilliant machine for mapping unusual clusters of feeling and behaviour, but far less suited to establishing averages and generalities. The internet fragments the ‘middle ground’ as a space of political argument, and grants a disproportionately loud voice to the niche and the crank. There are illusions galore here, but no sanctuary for the crucial synecdochal one on which representative democracy depends. Notions of ‘common sense’ and ‘the average voter’ lose their sway.

It’s from an excellent and – given the wretched Johnson’s current race for leadership of the Tory party – timely piece in the London Review of Books by William Davies:

They don’t even need ideas

The Colors of Our Dreams

Fascinating little essay about the changing ways that colour in general and blue in particular – has been associated with culture, class and feeling through the ages:

Blue was once little-known in the Western palette. Homer’s sea was “wine dark”; blue would not be used as water’s color until the seventeenth century. It has evolved from its original association with warmth, heat, barbarism, and the creatures of the underworld, to its current association with calm, peace, and reverie. Like the unruly green, the Romans associated blue with the savage Celtae and Germani, who used the woad herb’s rich leaves for their blue pigments. These northern barbarians also painted themselves blue before war and religious rituals. The ancient Germans, according to Ovid, even dyed their whitening hair blue.

The Romans, in contrast, preferred the color red—the Latin word, “coloratus” was synonymous with that for red, ruber. The Romans and Greeks did import lapis lazuli, the exquisite blue rock, from exotic locals such as China, Iran, and Afghanistan. But neither used the barbaric blue for important figures or images, saving it for the backgrounds for white and red figures. Even the Greek words for blue, like the names of colors in the Bible, largely were meant to evoke certain states or feelings as opposed to exact visual colors. Blue, like green, was the color of death and barbarism. The nobler colors—white, red, and black—were preferred.

Now read on www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-colors-of-our-dreams/

The Colors of Our Dreams

Boys Win!

Great post on SocImages about gendering of play beyond pink and blue:

SocImages authors and readers love pointing out pointlessly gendered products, especially children’s toys in blue and pink. Since gender is about what we do in the world, all the things we use for work and play can give weight to assumptions about gender differences that aren’t true. Critics of pointlessly gendered products emphasize that small differences in design—from color to function—can ultimately add up to big differences in how people learn to act in the world.

Gendering toys isn’t just about the color, it is also about what we teach kids to do with them. That’s why I got a huge kick out of this video: a compilation of old commercial shots of “white boys winning board games.” Of course, I haven’t done a systemic sampling of old commercials to see if girls win too, but this compilation makes an important point about how we can miss tropes that only show one outcome of social interaction over and over, especially competition.
— Read on thesocietypages.org/socimages/2019/03/26/i-win/

This is the you tube video…I win!

Boys Win!

“Host bodies” – Feminist Philosophers

Just came across this.

“Florida House Speaker José Oliva actually referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” during a sit-down with Jim DeFede of CBS Miami about an anti-abortion bill. It wasn’t a simple slip of the tongue, either – Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” five times throughout the interview.”
— Read on feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/host-bodies/

It struck a chord because I’d been listening to a podcast of an old lecture given by Marina Warner back in 1994 in that years BBC’s Reith Lectures, called Managing Monsters. It is about myth and what stories reveal about the way women are perceived.

She notes

In Aeschylus’s Oresteia, when Orestes has murdered his mother Clytemnestra, the matriarchal Furies want justice against the matricide – but they find themselves confronting a new order – led by the god Apollo. Orestes is declared innocent, and in a famous resolution which still has power to shock audiences today, the god decrees:

The mother of what’s called her offspring’s no parent but only the nurse to the seed that’s implanted.

The mounter, the male’s the only true parent.

She harbours the bloodshoot, unless some god blasts it. The womb of the woman’s a convenient transit.

In this brutal act of legislation, the god of harmony declares that henceforward, in civilised society, only the father counts. The mother is nothing more than an incubator.

I wonder if José Olivia knew his misogyny – no less monstrous today than it was then – was as old as that?

“Host bodies” – Feminist Philosophers