- We’re told Americans have no free time, yet we’re watching more than four (4) hours of TV per day Ryan McMaken, Power & Market
- “A Household God in a Socialist World” [pdf] Andrei Znamenski, Ethnologia Europaea
- Why the world is in uproar right now Branko Milanovic, globalinequality
- Sex recession? Maybe not… Frances Woolley, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative
This is a cross-post from my contribution to the Adam Smith Institute blog.
Last week the Crown Prosecution Service published updated guidance for prosecutions under the Obscene Publications Act (1959). Legal campaigning has brought about a big change: the liberal tests of harm, consent and legality of real acts are now key parts of their working definition of obscenity. The CPS explain:
… conduct will not likely fall to be prosecuted under the Act provided that:
- It is consensual (focusing on full and freely exercised consent, and also where the provision of consent is made clear where such consent may not be easily determined from the material itself); and
- No serious harm is caused
- It is not otherwise inextricably linked with other criminality (so as to encourage emulation or fuelling interest or normalisation of criminality); and
- The likely audience is not under 18 (having particular regard to where measures have been taken to ensure that the audience is not under 18) or otherwise vulnerable (as a result of their physical or mental health, the circumstances in which they may come to view the material, the circumstances which may cause the subject matter to have a particular impact or resonance or any other relevant circumstance).
- Conservatives, sex, and the aspirations of women Rachel Lu, Law & Liberty
- Hello Mars, farewell Mars Caleb Scharf, Life, Unbounded
- Terrorism justified: a response to Vicente Medina (Machiavelli) Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
- The third gender of southern Mexico Ola Synowiec, BBC
- The passion for a kind of justice born of righteous rage Waller Newell, Claremont Review of Books
- Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Cold War: Less Than Grand Strategy Andrew Bacevich, the Nation
- No, Sex Wasn’t Better for Women Under Socialism Cathy Young, Reason
- I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria Samuel Reilly, 1843
This book explores the aesthetics of the novel from the perspective of Continental European philosophy, presenting a theory on the philosophical definition and importance of the novel as a literary genre. It analyses a variety of individuals whose work is reflected in both theoretical literary criticism and Continental European aesthetics, including Mikhail Bakhtin, Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin. Moving through material from eighteenth century and ancient Greek philosophy and aesthetics, the book provides comprehensive coverage of the major positions on the philosophy of the novel. Distinctive features include the importance of Vico’s view of the epic to understanding the novel, the importance of Kierkegaard’s view of the novel and irony along with his other aesthetic views, the different possibilities associated with seeing the novel as ‘mimetic’ and the importance of Proust in understanding the genre in all its philosophical aspects, relating the issue of the philosophical aesthetics of the novel with the issue of philosophy written as a novel and the interaction between these two alternative positions.
Jacques has a new book out, too, titled Indecent Stories by Decent Women. It’s under a pen name, John René Adolph, for obvious reasons. Here is a 2014 essay by Jacques titled “Why Young Women Are Stupid (If They Are): A Scientific Inquiry.”
- Checks and Balances Jonathan Adler, Volokh Conspiracy
- Trump’s relationship with Fox News starts to show cracks Rebecca Morin, Politico
- Italy versus the EU (again) Alberto Mingardi, EconLog
- How technology and masturbation tamed the sexual revolution Ross Douthat, New York Times
- The Sexless Life When Sex Is God David French, National Review
- An excellent, conservative history of America’s sexual revolution Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal
- An excellent, libertarian history of America’s sexual revolution BK Marcus, FEE
- Why economics is, and should be, creepy Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias
Below is an excerpt from my book I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography. You can buy it on amazon here.
Note: This takes place in Brittany when I was sixteen.
The threshing work was divided by age and sex. Young men and boys would stand on the very tall wheat pile; it was thirty feet high or so at the beginning of the process. From there, they would throw sheaves of wheat down to a handler who placed them on a conveyor belt leading into the business end of the machine. That was a dangerous job left to a specialist because the threshing teeth, designed to strip the grain from the stalks, could mangle the man’s arm as he positioned the sheaves. Out of the other end of the machine, came sacks of grain and bales of compressed straw that someone had to tie immediately. Moving and stacking those outputs was the job of girls and young women.
The heat was infernal, the dust was infernal, and the cadence was infernal, so that each team worked only for one hour at a time. At the end of each hour, a supervisor would blow a whistle above the thresher’s din, signaling replacement, which was accomplished in one fell sweep, without breaking rhythm. Those being replaced would move to the area outside the kitchen where food was served continuously, or they would walk out to the hedges lining every road, to relieve themselves. They pretty well had to because they drank without cease, possibly several gallons a day. Since no one ever drank water, they took in huge quantities of cider.
Though low in alcohol, and although heat and exertion probably burned some of that alcohol, cumulatively, the cider must have had some positive effect on the prevailing mood. In addition, everyone dressed lightly because of the same heat and exertion, the girls, in not much more than a sleeveless blouse and a skirt, possibly nothing more at all. No wonder, then, that during breaks, some young people walked well past the point that public decency required for a simple leak. They would wander into meadows made deserted by the on-going work around la mécanique (the thresher). Unavoidably, some young men and some young women ran into each other there. It was summer and the grass was tall under the apple trees, easily concealing people lying down. Anyway, I think, perhaps that was the normal Breton betrothal ceremony. This was so well understood that every time I came back from my break that day, older boys would asked me loudly if I was engaged yet. I was not, not yet, but I came close, damn close! Several times. With several girls. Eventually, I moved away from Brittany, and even from France, and it took me another fifteen years to tie the knot. It would have been sooner if I had lived near a wheat-threshing machine, no doubt.
Below is an excerpt from my book I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography. You can buy it on amazon here.
My mother routinely spoke irresponsibly in front of her children, as if we did not understand the language. Many times, in my early years, I overheard her describing a wayward female movie star, sometimes even a neighborhood woman, as “a prisoner of her senses.” She did not say this in a censorious manner but sympathetically, with a tinge of envy perhaps. The repetitiousness of the assertion loosened high expectations in me. In adolescence and even later, I kept looking for such “prisoners.” It took me a long time but, when I recognized one, I married her without hesitation.
I am not sure when my mother tried to provide formal sex education per se. I may have been eight or nine. I declined her instruction, not because I was prudish about the facts but because her pompous language style, derived on that occasion from bodice-buster serials in her weekly newspaper, made me uncomfortable. I would have been more at ease with concrete descriptions of the exchange of body fluids.
On other, more casual instances her wording was often quite vigorous. When the first blue jeans appeared in Paris, I may have been about twelve, or so. My mother declared then and there her opposition to this new type of garment on the ground that they were explicitly designed to emphasize men’s private parts thus inflaming the young women. One of her many off-hand remarks that contributed to make me optimistic about women’s erotic vulnerability and the ease of their conquest. My mother could describe an innocent, practical article of clothing as a kind of more or less gratefully accepted form of public rape. For this talent, I forgave and I forgive much that she did that was truly evil.
This is a micro alert. Be careful, reading this might make you uncomfortable.
It’s a November afternoon, a rather nice November but November all the same. There is a wedding on the little lawn on the cliff right above Steamer Lane. (Note for my overseas friends in Germany, Turkey, and Illinois: Steamer Lane is a famous cold water surf championship spot in Santa Cruz, California. The whole area, on the Monterey Bay, is exceptionally beautiful.)
The bride is late; surprise! The groom’s buddies are milling around in their comfortable enough tuxedos.* The bridesmaids are sitting and flocking together in their bareback, bare-arms, low-cut long dresses. A cool sea breeze is blowing, of course. Anyone could have predicted it. The ladies are obviously cold, as they should be. Anyone would be. Exemplary social scientist that I am, I make it a point to pass close enough to verify that goose pimples prevail. This goes on for at least an hour. It’s true nippling weather. Maybe that’s the point and I am just missing it.
I don’t know why no one in charge of the women of the bridal party planned for this weather. I don’t know why the bridesmaids’ uniform could not have included a tasteful shawl. Frankly, I don’t know if any of them would have used a shawl in preference to shivering though. (One young woman in my entourage says, “No way!”) At any rate, it’s difficult to take seriously the claim that women are tired of being considered sex objects. Those women, and the women of every American bridal party I have ever seen are bravely and determinedly on display. It’s not an intellectual display; it’s not a talent show; it’s not an IQ contest. I would swear they are disturbed, possibly enraged at the thought of not being considered sex objects on this occasion, after so much effort. The chasm between public discourse and reality has rarely been so wide since the Victorian Age. In the long run, political correctness is sure to induce some sort of collective schizophrenia, it seems to me.
Just to be painfully clear: I am not criticizing the bridesmaids’ behavior – bless their hearts! I hear that young men are ever more reluctant to commit. And you don’t catch flies with vinegar. And there must be a reason why Mother Nature placed women’s breasts on their chests rather than on their backs. (It’s so they can watch men watching them and take it from there.) I am not deriding the women in the bridal party at all. Female exhibitionism has been an attractive part of my worldview ever since I can remember (maybe since three or four years of age). I am just not becoming used to the grossly hypocritical denial that forms today the social context of such displays. It even bothers me worse than ever.
Someone has to shout, “Bullshit!” I wish older women would do it. In their regretted absence, here I am! You can count on me.
* “How gauche,” my snobbish Parisian side is thinking. Tuxedos are evening attire; they should never see the sun.
- Fantastic post about Uganda’s role (and a Ugandan’s perspective) in the ongoing South Sudan conflict.
- Sexual mores: Love in a cold climate. I live in California, but my ancestors come from the frozen wastelands of Scandinavia and northern Germany. Rawr!
- The unacknowledged success of neoliberalism.
- One of my favorite bloggers (Scott Sumner) is joining one of my favorite group blogs (EconLog). I’m a huuuuge fan of group blogs (they’re pretty much the only type of blog I read), so I hope he decides to stay on as a permanent contributor.
- Inglorious Revolutions. Why the West is kinda, sorta hypocritical when it comes to the Arab Spring.
Shikha Dalmia, of Reason, has a new piece up in the Wall Street Journal on India’s harassment problem:
I’ve never met an Indian woman—rich or poor, upper or lower caste, pretty or homely, young or middle-age—who hasn’t been harassed […] Unlike rape and sex-selective abortion, which represent a genuine devaluing of women, sexual harassment in India is, I believe, an expression not of the power of Indian men but of their helplessness. It’s a pathetic attempt to have a sexual encounter, no matter how meaningless and evanescent. Its real cause is free-floating male libido with no socially acceptable outlet.
India’s sexual mores and institutions are rooted in a pastoral past, when people died before 50, so marriages between minors were the norm. Families in villages would betroth their children, at birth sometimes, and have a formal ceremony after both attained puberty, when the girl went to live with her husband’s family. This arrangement, now banned, had many horrendous downsides, but it produced an organic harmony between the sexual needs of individuals and the social expectations of monogamy and chastity […]
What would work [for easing India’s harassment problem]? Nothing short of transforming India’s puritanical culture and giving men and women more freedom to forge sexually mature relationships outside of marriage.
Read the whole thing. I don’t know how much good liberalizing India’s sexual mores would be without first more liberalization in markets. I often think of the US’s own problems when it comes to the sexual revolution of the 1960s: more STDs, more unplanned, unwanted pregnancies, and more costs associated with public health. Another downside was the attempt, by certain feminists, to destroy the very libido of men that Dalmia recommends liberalizing. The attempts by these authoritarians can still be felt today, especially in American universities (see Ken Masugi’s thoughtful piece on this problem).