To lech in the lab may be rude, but to lech in the THES is obscene

by Daniel on September 25, 2009

Handing a rightwing media don and author of pop ev psych books commission to wrote 500 words on the subject of “Lust” for a start of term humour article has to pretty much go in the “what could possibly go wrong?” column. But I think even the THES editors must have been a little bit surprised at what they got. A classic example of the sort of thing where having shown a draft to a single close female friend might have saved the day, and in the process offered a useful insight into the distinction between the concept “refreshingly un-PC” and the concept “creepy”, and perhaps the Pleistocene conditions on the veldt which might have given rise to it.

I am more or less diametrically opposed to Dr Kealey’s point of view, which I consider wrong on two counts. On the one hand, this “look but don’t touch” stuff is guff; students and lecturers are both adults and don’t need to be protected by special rules not imposed on the rest of us against their own occasional tendency to have bad sex. On the other hand, it’s perfectly possible, if you actually are an adult man, to have a conversation with an attractive young woman and interact with her professionally without leching over her all the time. In fact, it’s not only possible, it’s the law (specifically the law with respect to sexual discrimination in the workplace). Sheesh.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to offer up red meat for the wowsers, prigs and good-government types, but I do … anyway, lecturing me on how very, very wrong it is for lecturers to have sex with their students is a recreational activity of sorts, and given the context a relatively harmless one, so go for it; have this one on me. The weekend starts here, particularly if you’re at the University of Buckingham.

Update: Actually, I can’t believe how good I am to you guys; Dr Kealey is, correctly IMO, being hauled over the coals for using the phrase “perk of the job”. I note that in the post linked above I have “interfering with the cargo” (my only possible defence: it was topical at the time as John Prescott, whose autobiography had recently been published at the time I wrote it, was fired from the Cunard line on this charge after having had a holiday romance with a passenger). Friday on my mind!

{ 73 comments }

1

Ralph Hitchens 09.25.09 at 5:09 pm

Well, for starters Kealey seems to have read a different Tom Wolfe novel than the one I recall reading. If he got that wrong, what else does he get wrong?

2

Farah 09.25.09 at 5:10 pm

I married my PhD supervisor, and while I do not approve of rigid rules, I have a long talk I give to people about just how much lecturer/student relationships can screw up lives even when they work. Some of them still go ahead of course, but at least with some idea of the reality (I hope).

3

BrendanH 09.25.09 at 5:11 pm

I call Poe.

Clearly the University of Buckingham is a fictional entity, like the Universities of Poppleton, Rummidge and Limerick.

4

Hidari 09.25.09 at 5:14 pm

I think one good result of this story is that it gives at least some insight into the low intellectual level of vice (sic) chancellors. Most academics live in blissful ignorance of (or choose to willfully ignore) the fact that the people who actually run their lives (and who are paid so much more than them) are, more often than not, blithering imbeciles.

5

Harry 09.25.09 at 5:29 pm

Didn’t J K Galbraith have a view about this? (Relationships with students, that is, not leching, a word which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen spelled before, and would have assume had a t in it, but I’m inclined to think that DD is a better speller than me as well as a better thinker).

Many V-Cs are entirely intellectually serious and sensible. Its a bit of a gift that this one’s from University of Buckingham (for those who don’t know, its the UK’s only private university, and was for a long time a home of ultra-right and ultra-libertarian types).

6

Jonathan M 09.25.09 at 5:31 pm

I remember the days in which Ted Honderich would make elegant use of a pair of dubious yellow corduroy trousers in an effort to wow the female undergraduates…

Halcyon days. If not for the trousers. Or Honderich for that matter.

7

DanH 09.25.09 at 5:33 pm

You may enjoy JK Galbraith’s take on this (there’s a longer version of this letter, and the full exchange, in A View from the Stands, which doesn’t seem to be available on Google Books).

The article comprehensively fails on just about every count. It’s offensive, not funny, and hard to even get inside the head of someone who thought it was funny to write it. It’s just rubbish.

8

Rick 09.25.09 at 5:52 pm

9

P O'Neill 09.25.09 at 6:02 pm

He needs to watch Husbands and Wives.

10

Chris 09.25.09 at 6:03 pm

A classic example of the sort of thing where having shown a draft to a single close female friend might have saved the day

Do you really think he has one? I mean, one whose opinion on intellectual subjects he actually respects? Seems to me like the kind of guy who longs for the days when you didn’t have to hide your misogyny to go out in public, and has spent the last decade or so exemplifying the proverb “there’s no fool like an old fool”.

11

roac 09.25.09 at 6:03 pm

I find his encapsulation of Middlemarch deeply weird.

For the benefit of us Yanks, by the way, what is a Vice-Chancellor exactly?

12

dsquared 09.25.09 at 6:06 pm

It’s a back-formed transitive verb from “lechery” surely? Phonetically it looks weird but etymologically I’m on solid ground.

Although I confess the main reason for fchoosing that spelling is that the shelves of my local deli groan with cans of “Lech’s Lager” a perfectly serviceable Polish brew presumably named after Lech Walesa but obviously favoured by the local Mike Giggler comunity (ie me)

13

Harry 09.25.09 at 6:31 pm

Yes, as soon as I thought about it I realised you must be right about the spelling.

And even though you’re absolutely right, if it is possible to be righter than absolutely right, DanH (#7) is that.

14

LizardBreath 09.25.09 at 6:47 pm

Equally, the universities are where the male scholars and the female acolytes are.

Not that this is the worst thing about the article, but depressing in its own right.

15

ejh 09.25.09 at 6:48 pm

What’s the sell-by date on the cans? There was an offy on the Cowley Road in Oxford which used to have all sorts of interesting Ukrainian pivo and the like, all out-of-date, conceivably because they’d come over by irregular means.

16

noen 09.25.09 at 7:15 pm

I think that men should look but not touch and we humans, I am not a man, ought to be fully aware of and not repress our sexuality. However I think this falls into the category of meta rules. All societies have explicit rules but they also have implicit rules it is taboo to talk about. “Look but don’t touch” seems to fit in with that.

Of course there is also another dynamic going on. This isn’t really about sex, it’s about power. There is an unequal power relationship and bringing sexuality into that is just asking for a lot of trouble.

Seems like a failure to be properly socialized to me.

17

Stuart 09.25.09 at 7:21 pm

Two adults having sex is fine. But I thought the article (or one part of it) was about female students that try to get better grades using sex, which is something else.

18

dsquared 09.25.09 at 7:23 pm

#15 Classic Deli, I remember it well. Nah, this stuff is fresh every week; Polish beer is basically the default option in my bit of Camden these days – Tyskie, Zywiec and Lech. The Polish lads drink it, apparently.

19

dsquared 09.25.09 at 7:26 pm

for anyone who cares, btw, the title comes from a piece of doggerel about the Profumo affair:

Oh what have you done, belle Christine?
You’ve broken the party machine!
For to lie in the nude may be rude
But to lie in the House is obscene!

20

Chris Bertram 09.25.09 at 7:27 pm

Many thanks to Darius Jedburgh in the pub earlier, for alerting me to this post by Matthew Turner

http://www.matthewturner.co.uk/Blog/2009/09/mail-readers-chris-woodhead-and-martin.html

Containing links to relevant material on teacher-pupil relations by Melanie Phillips and and Martin (Iraq-on-the-conscience) Bright.

21

dsquared 09.25.09 at 7:30 pm

DanH; of course! slightly fuller version

22

mollymooly 09.25.09 at 8:21 pm

@BrendanH:

Clearly the University of Buckingham is a fictional entity, like the Universities of Poppleton, Rummidge and Limerick.

Is your ignorance of the University of Limerick sincere, or Bielefeldesque irony? David Lodge’s one was “University College Limerick”.

23

BrendanH 09.25.09 at 8:43 pm

@mollymooly:

@BrendanH:

Is your ignorance of the University of Limerick sincere, or Bielefeldesque irony? David Lodge’s one was “University College Limerick”.

I can’t answer that question without compromising my carefully maintained anonymity.

24

mollymooly 09.25.09 at 9:36 pm

If it’s any consolation, I still call it NIHE.

25

Phil 09.25.09 at 9:45 pm

I didn’t think the piece was entirely contemptible on first reading, partly because I have known students to dress to impress and linger at the end of seminars. But not many, not often, and I didn’t enjoy the experience (let alone enjoy them, as Kealey charmingly puts it). The power relations are always in the room – fundamentally an approach like that doesn’t say “hey handsome”, it says “I’m needy and I’m struggling a bit at the moment”. Jeremy Hardy said it all on the News Quiz this evening – “She says she admires you and asks for help with her essay – what do you do? You help her with her essay.”

Also (while I’m being perilously frank), I think it’s quite common to find certain students ferociously attractive, to the point of really regretting being far too old to hang out with them. Being unusually clever and hard-working generally does it for me. But no, of course it’s not a question of “look, don’t touch”. “Talk, don’t chat up”, maybe – but that doesn’t really apply either, as it wouldn’t occur to me to chat them up in the first place. Ugh. On second thoughts, you lot are right about Kealey – that piece is entirely contemptible. (Or else Mary Beard is right and it’s terrifically clever satire, and we all fell for it. Maybe.)

26

Anne 09.25.09 at 11:27 pm

There once was a don from Buckingham
Who

oh never mind.

27

Thomas 09.26.09 at 1:07 am

roac@11:

“Vice-Chancellor” translates as “President” (or sometimes as “Provost”, depending on context). Brit and Oz Universities have a separate head of state (Chancellor) and head of government (Vice-Chancellor).

28

nickhayw 09.26.09 at 2:35 am

If this was satire, it is pathetic satire. Trying to ridicule lustful academics by ‘condoning’ the repression of lustful desire would be like Swift ridiculing contempt for the Irish by condoning the repression of contempt…if you’re going to take the subtly-ironic road, you’ve got to do more than wink-wink-nudge-nudge old-boys humour

29

Salient 09.26.09 at 4:32 am

So to bring this back around large-ish circle, just to be rascally, what’s the chance we’ll get to see a Youtube of Kealey getting egged on the sidewalk? Young rascally folks of the world unite, here: We can emphasize “egg, but don’t stone” as the constraints on our behavior. If we egg him while he is acting in his official capacity, we can tell him it’s “a perk of the job.” If questioned later, we can emphasize the crudeness of the act was to underpin the inappropriateness of regressive puffery and that this is a conventional protest device. Egging is not fun and is not a legitimate source of vindication but it is legitimate to use eggging to illuminate the ways that Buckingham aggravated the dissonance between what is publicly acceptable and what he admitted he desires.

Oh, and if we are sternly asked why o why did we throw eggs at Mr. Kealey, we can pertly answer: “because that’s where the rubbish is.”

Throw your eggs while you are young, but share your scorn — and only your scorn — when you are older.

30

Steve Fuller 09.26.09 at 11:06 am

You might be interested to learn that the piece was specifically commissioned by the Times Higher’s editor (Ann Mroz) and it has generated its own set of responses.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=408404&c=1

To be honest, I doubt that this article would generate so much heat in this forum, if Kealey wasn’t such an outspoken libertarian and the VC of Britain’s only private university. Perhaps it’s a way for the centre-left liberals to make it with the ‘ladies’ by harumphing on their behalf.

31

dsquared 09.26.09 at 12:17 pm

To be honest, I doubt that this article would generate so much heat in this forum, if Kealey wasn’t such an outspoken libertarian and the VC of Britain’s only private university.

I always love these interventions of yours, Steve, where you accuse other people of bad faith on the basis of no evidence. How does it feel to be the only pure-hearted man in the world, bravely defending the science of intellectual design with only occasional breaks to sneer at the PC hypocrisy of the academic left?

If Kealey wasn’t a right-wing ballbag, he probably wouldn’t have written such a crass and mockable article, so this is trivially true. But the whole point is that a man’s politics are not unrelated to his character, so it was always massively more likely that such an article would come from such a character.

32

nickhayw 09.26.09 at 1:18 pm

Perhaps it’s a way for the centre-left liberals to make it with the ‘ladies’ by harumphing on their behalf.

The insinuation that we’re all posting here just to ‘make it with the ladies’ beggars belief. Harumph.

33

Hidari 09.26.09 at 2:20 pm

‘To be honest, I doubt that this article would generate so much heat in this forum, if Kealey wasn’t such an outspoken libertarian.’

Funnily enough, you can substitute the word ‘twat’ for ‘libertarian’ in that sentence with no real change of meaning.

34

Bloix 09.26.09 at 2:47 pm

For a similar controversy in the international context see
http://www.theonion.com/content/news/recent_rise_in_international

35

belle le triste 09.26.09 at 3:43 pm

One possibility you are all foolishly ignoring is that Steve Fuller IS IN FACT GOD. The evidence:
i. He knows what is in the hearts of men…
ii. He is justifiably proud of His Design-work, which He so carefully constructed EXACTLY to resemble how it would have come out via Darwinian evolution, recognising this latter as the only INTELLIGENT solution to the problem of adaptation for fitness and etc, and adapting his own Acts accordingly. He is understandably hurt that you are all so mean and dismissive, and appears in select venues to make His feelings known.

36

Alex 09.26.09 at 3:50 pm

As richly deserved as Kealey’s monstering is, I can’t help contrasting it to the reaction to John Yoo’s continued employment at Berkeley. Mind you, that bit of concern trolling out of the way, it is hilarious to see someone who has spent so much time lecturing the rest of the profession on how they should run their business make quite such a fool of himself.

37

Doctor Science 09.26.09 at 4:24 pm

Perhaps it’s a way for the centre-left liberals to make it with the ‘ladies’ by harumphing on their behalf.

… because no-one who posts here could be a woman, who can get angry on her *own* behalf, thankyouverymuch. Or does the mere fact of being centre-left make us “women”, who are not “ladies“?

Thank you, Steve Fuller, for making it clear that, like Dr Kealey, you do not actually consider women to be human beings. Clarity is so useful.

38

Chris A. Williams 09.26.09 at 4:32 pm

A couple of years ago, Kealey also got into the THES to opine that anyone who worked for a university who was not an academic ought to be referred to and thought of as a ‘college servant’. He’s not really stacking up a fund of goodwill here. More to the point, the man might be ‘vice-chancellor’ of a ‘University’ but it’s about a quarter the size of the next-biggest one in the UK. There are school head teachers with responsibility for more people than him – it’s like being a Chief Constable . . . but only of Dyfed-Powys Police. Bless.

39

Chris A. Williams 09.26.09 at 6:31 pm

NB – I don’t want the inverted commas in the post above to make anyone think that Buckingham’s somehow not a legitimate university. It is – it’s just a very small one.

40

Steve Fuller 09.26.09 at 6:58 pm

As usual, you people leave me in stitches. You’re well on your way to making blogging an alternative to — as opposed to an expression of — thought. And Doctor Science, God knows what planet you’re coming from with that analysis — it certainly isn’t Earth. Shouldn’t you people now re-focus your attention on, say, Cass Sunstein, Alan Dershowitz or some other ‘ballbag’? The Kealey-bashing is getting a bit boring. And by the way, I’m not a libertarian, misogynist or anything of the sort. In fact, I happen to be one of you — if not a bit more to the left. What I am doing here is simply holding a mirror to a bunch of self-declared centre-left liberals who periodically trash people to no great purpose except bloodlust — and perhaps a weird sense of group solidarity. Call it ‘trolling’… fine!

41

dsquared 09.26.09 at 7:22 pm

Steve, if you’re “in stitches” one moment and then two sentences later announcing that the same thing that had you “in stitches” is “boring”, you might want to consider switching to decaff for a while. It’s just not normal to have moodswings that volatile.

42

Hidari 09.26.09 at 7:48 pm

‘Call it ‘trolling’… fine!’

Suits me.

43

Steve Fuller 09.26.09 at 7:56 pm

dsquared,

I’ll switch to the decaff, the day you go for a brain-boosting drug — anything with caffeine would help for starters.

But I’m glad to see that your memory is long enough to remember Judge Jones. But memory does not require thought. As I have said many times before, you need to try harder.

44

Harry 09.26.09 at 8:06 pm

So he’s not questioning your good faith, Daniel, he just thinks you’re kind of dumb.

Why did “you people leave me in stitches” sound so unhumourous?

45

dsquared 09.26.09 at 8:46 pm

As I’ve said before to people who persistently come back in order to “hold up a mirror” to Crooked Timber and its commentariat to remind us of our manifold flaws, this is a battle that can have only one winner. Steve has to make a conscious effort in order to annoy me, while I annoy him by being superficial, partisan and tribal. All of which I can do 24/7, even in my sleep, without expending any effort at all – when it comes to writing mocking posts about reactionary misogynist ballbags, I even enjoy doing it, plus it gains me points with the laydeez. So in other words, this conflict is an chore and a bore for Steve, but an effortless pleasure for me. Give up, Steve.

46

Lee A. Arnold 09.26.09 at 9:30 pm

If you met on the binge an old acheseyeld from Ailing,
When the tune of his tremble shook shimmy on shin,
While his countrary raged in the weak of his wailing,
Like a rugilant pugilant Lyon O’Lynn,

If he maundered in misliness, plaining his plight or
Played fox and lice, pricking and dropping hips teeth,
Or wringing his handcuffs for peace, the blind blighter,
Praying Dieuf and Domb Nostrums foh thomethinks to eath;

If he weapt while he leapt and guffalled quith a quhimper,
Made cold blood a blue mundy and no bones without flech,
Taking kiss, kake or kick with a suck, sigh or simper,
A diffle to larn and a dibble to lech;

If the fain shinner pegged you to shave his immartial
Wee skillmustered shoul with his ooh, hoodoodoo!
Broking wind that to wiles, woemaid sin he was partial,
We don’t think, Jones, we’d care to this evening, would you?

(James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, pp. 148-14).

First quatrain after Thomas Campbell, “Exile of Erin” = acheseyeld from Ailing
“fox and lice” = played the box and dice, the whole lot
played deaf and dumb for something to eat
“dibble” = devil (to lech)
“pegged you to shave his immartial wee skillmustered shoul” = begged you to save his immortal little schoolmaster’s soul (with a How d’you do!)
Last line: No thanks!

47

Doctor Science 09.27.09 at 3:32 am

Did those of you not from Planet Troll find my analysis confusing/confounding/obscure? Reader response analysis can be very useful, if the responses come from people who can actually *read*.

48

Jason 09.27.09 at 3:54 am

@Doctor Science,

Your drift seemed clear enough to me. Though any attempt to find some method or meaning behind Steve’s scattershot, near-contentless harrumphing (dsquared has no brain! Ha ha!) is perhaps quixotic.

49

belle le triste 09.27.09 at 10:56 am

You have to remember that the Vexed Deity FULLER doesn’t have our evolved path-brain advantages, socially or otherwise — indeed, He can’t even grasp that they ARE advantages. He imagined Himself into Sempiternal Omniscience from NOTHING, and that unimagineable Self-importance can’t be scaled down effectively. Being an All-Knowing God too often means you just don’t get it…

50

Steve Fuller 09.27.09 at 11:02 am

Harry’s intervention reminds me that, per usual, this is a dialogue of the deaf.

Frankly, you should welcome Trolls as occasionally providing a reality check on what the hell you people are arguing about. Turning Terence Kealey into a punching bag for everything you don’t collectively like about libertarianism, privatisation, lechery (perhaps sex itself — who knows!), misogyny, etc., brings blogging into disrepute generally. By the way, this is a point that another of your punching bags — Cass Sunstein — happens to make very well.

51

Hidari 09.27.09 at 11:08 am

‘ Turning Terence Kealey into a punching bag for everything you don’t collectively like about libertarianism, privatisation, lechery (perhaps sex itself—who knows!), misogyny, etc., brings blogging into disrepute generally’.

Well that’s certainly got my number. The only reason I have any objections to Kealey’s views is because I don’t like sex. I’m so glad this is now out in the open.

52

Chris Bertram 09.27.09 at 11:09 am

Most performance art is crap. Your attempt to reinvent trolling as performance art is, I’m sorry to say Steve, not an exception.

53

belle le triste 09.27.09 at 11:22 am

Nothing baffled the Vexed Deity FULLER as deeply as the consequences of his invention of sex: throughout all ages He had cast around declaring His Rules for its management; throughout all ages the little mortals snickered at His Godly silliness and ignored them.

54

Steve Fuller 09.27.09 at 11:39 am

I’m back in stitches! Keep it coming, echo chamber denizens!

55

ejh 09.27.09 at 11:39 am

How is it possible to “bring” blogging into disrepute?

56

Steve Fuller 09.27.09 at 11:46 am

Look, if you really want to take this discussion in a productive direction, you should read my original link and Rick’s link to Mary Beard’s column in the Times. Kealey’s piece was commissioned by the FEMALE editor of the Times Higher, who does not regret having done so, in spite of all of your harumphing. If you could add that bit of nuance to your discussion, rather than doing an ad-hominem on Kealey, you might collectively have something to say on the issue that is worth reading. But don’t rise to the challenge too quickly, as that would demonstrate the efficacy of ‘deus ex machina’!

57

Salient 09.27.09 at 12:50 pm

Frankly, you should welcome Trolls as occasionally providing a reality check on what the hell you people are arguing about.

I don’t generally welcome people who treat me with hostility, disdain, and contempt. Frustration with me, e.g. with my ignorance or foolishness, I can understand and accommodate; I can appreciate terse and biting corrections to my sundry stupidities. But I welcome this under the implicit common understanding that interlocutors and I respect each other as human beings who share an interest in catching our own mistakes, discovering our own BS, and comprehending each others’ perspectives.

When it’s in evidence that no such common understanding exists — when someone expresses contempt for me, to me — I have no further reason to interact with that person. It just wouldn’t be productive, or even healthy, for me to do so. Far from being “a reality check” on my presuppositions or blind spots, it would expose me to arbitrary degradation and expression of contempt. I cannot trust that such a person is communicating with me in good faith.

Kealey’s piece was commissioned by the FEMALE editor of the Times Higher, who does not regret having done so, in spite of all of your harumphing.

I don’t comprehend why the amusement of one woman would, or should, invalidate the complaint of another. Is the idea that individuals ought not hold their own standards for what they consider to be offensive?

I also don’t see why men couldn’t be offended by Kealey’s article on their own terms, not on behalf of women (or on behalf of anybody). After all, Kealey’s article could be easily interpreted as insulting to men.

But don’t rise to the challenge too quickly, as that would demonstrate the efficacy of ‘deus ex machina’!

Sorry, I don’t understand this statement. I’ll be happy to avoid reading the article you linked to “too quickly” — but it’s quite short, and not at all densely constructed, so there’s no reason to anticipate that quick responses would be unreasoned or uncomprehending.

Responding to that article: I get that Kealey’s article was an attempt at grand satire. I understood that in a first reading. Mroz says: “If people are offended, that is their right^1^ and they also have the right to express that.” Steve, you seem to disagree.

^1^It strikes me as weird to conceptualize the experience of an emotional state, or a state of being generally, as a “right” — what does it mean to have a “right” to an internal response to a stimulus?

58

John Protevi 09.27.09 at 1:36 pm

So, sneering at Kealey is a way for centre-left liberals to make it with the ‘ladies’ (scare quotes in original), because such centre-left liberals might not really like sex.

That’s one way to avoid an echo chamber, for sure, cause very few people would have the inventiveness to put those thoughts together as a way of denouncing ad hom arguments.

59

Belle Waring 09.27.09 at 2:20 pm

I’d like to share a little anecdote from my college years. I had a Roman History prof who would frequently make comments on my appearance, in front of the gathering class, as I made my way to my seat in the front row (because I was a very diligent student!). And at a gathering of students and faculty I decided to leave and put on my coat, but then got sidetracked into a discussion with him and said I needed to take my coat off. And he said, you can do that but if you do I’m going to stare at your breasts–but anyway you knew that when you got that tattoo there. (The tattoo is like 3 inches below my clavicle anyway, thank you.) He actually said that to me! And then, when I was applying to graduate school, I had to approach my advisor with a problem, because normally I would ask this prominent scholar who gave me an A+ (which, I may say, I thoroughly deserved) in Roman History to write a recommendation, but I knew from previous experience that I didn’t actually want to be alone with him in his office. And so my advisor had to convince another professor, of equal status, to write me a recommendation that was somewhat fictional, on the assurance that when I did have a class with him that term he would find me everything promised, etc. He kindly did so and didn’t regret his decision. So where I’m going with this is, that fucking sucked and was a terrible experience for me, and Dr. Kealy is a fucking asshat who is even now making the lives of his attractive female students needlessly miserable. And just FYI, dsquared’s reliable, not-making-a-big-deal-out-of-it, stand up feminism makes him infinitely more sexually appealing to the leftist ladies of the world. That shit is like catnip. It is only the strict, sex-hating conventions of Crooked Timber, under which fraternization between co-bloggers is totes banned, which keeps us apart right now. And the happily married thing.

60

Doctor Science 09.27.09 at 2:59 pm

OK, I shall just ignore the strange buzzing noise. DNFTEC.

Salient:

I get that Kealey’s article was an attempt at grand satire.

Really? I’m assuming that by “grand satire” we mean “as in Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal'”, the gold standard for satire.

To me, Kealey’s article does not read as satiric by Swiftian standards. It is not satire but a joke, along the lines of Dr Johnson’s A woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.

Kealey, like Johnson, is using humour for one of its core purposes: to emphasize the lines between ingroup and outgroup, and make the ingroup feel good about it. Kealey’s article, like Johnson’s quip, functions to reassure men about an apparent blurring of the lines between “what men can do” and “what women can do”. Johnson said, “don’t worry, such women are just like performing animals”; Kealey says, “don’t worry, such women are masturbation aids, particularly attractive blow-up dolls”.

Both Kealey and Johnson reassure men that women need not be taken seriously as, you know, real human beings or anything. This is a relief for those on the inside, they “get the joke” and laugh. You can see why feminists would get the reputation of being humourless.

True, Swiftian satire does not reassure like that. Swift does not try to make his readers feel *better* about the division bewteen the English ingroup and the Irish outgroup, he tries to make them feel *worse*. He exaggerates the already-extant implication that the Irish were not quite human to its full-fledged, logical corollary: treat them like livestock, then. *Eat* them, nom nom.

I see no indications that Kealey or his supporters intend or feel anything other than Johnsonian humor from his article. Do you read it otherwise?

61

Steve Fuller 09.27.09 at 3:33 pm

Salient,

Perhaps you mean well, but you write as if you were born yesterday — at least as far as this blog is concerned. All of your questions and remarks, like so many blog postings in general, display a complete lack of context beyond what has been going on in the immediate thread. I am actually someone who has been treated with contempt here in the past, having had to defend myself from hostility that was not of my own creation (i.e. I suddenly found myself subject of a blogpost here). I also see that this is part of a pattern, which I think is especially disgraceful coming from a blog that claims to be of the centre-left. I realize that it may be fruitless to fight fire with fire in this context, but that’s how I’ve been proceeding here. I am sure that in some other life — indeed, perhaps even real life (insofar as it still exists) — we could be friends.

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Hidari 09.27.09 at 3:53 pm

‘I am actually someone who has been treated with contempt here in the past’.

Oh and the present, Steve.

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Chris Bertram 09.27.09 at 4:03 pm

SF, re “context” you’ve gone too far.

_I am actually someone who has been treated with contempt here in the past, having had to defend myself from hostility that was not of my own creation (i.e. I suddenly found myself subject of a blogpost here)._

Our first interaction with you was to invite you to participate in an on-line seminar on Chris Mooney’s _The Republican War on Science_. Hardly a mark of contempt or hostility.

Subsequently we discovered that you were posting insulting personal comments about members of our collective under a pseudonym. Comments which (a) might put some of your comments in this thread in perspective and (b) were contrary to our comments policy about sockpuppeting.

We warned you, but allowed you to continue to post comments here. Pretty generous of us, I thought.

We thought one of your books was crap (hence: “I found myself the subject of a blogpost here”). Sorry, but when you publish something, you open yourself to the evaluation of the public. Get over it.

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magistra 09.27.09 at 4:20 pm

If the question is Terence Kealey: crass misogynist or parodying of crass misogynist, then it makes sense to look at his other work. And if you see the same kind of macho views in his serious work, then it’s hard to conclude that he’s suddenly become an extra-subtle parodist.

I think what he (and presumably the commissioning editor) were aiming for was a kind of bluff no-nonsense, ‘well we know what we’re supposed to say, but that’s not really what we think, is it?’ A kind of consciously politically incorrect self-confessional session. There are some writers (and I’d include Mary Beard among them) who can get away with that because she’s prepared to puncture pretension wherever she sees it (including in herself). But Keaney comes across more like Jeremy Clarkson, simply revealing his unconstructed views.

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Doctor Science 09.27.09 at 4:45 pm

magistra:

bluff no-nonsense, ‘well we know what we’re supposed to say, but that’s not really what we think, is it?’ A kind of consciously politically incorrect self-confessional session.

I contend that there is in fact no such animal. What you describe is not confessional in any meaningful way, it is self-praise. In Kealey’s case, it is the self-praise of the powerful: he is being “bluff, no-nonsense .. politically incorrect” to make it clear that he in fact has no respect for the feelings or humanity of the less powerful.

Kealey’s article, as others have pointed out, is even more about power than it is about lust. From his POV, it’s funny that the sub-humans ever imagined that he thought of them as scholars instead of meat. It’s funny the way this LOLcat is funny: those goofy women! they’re sitting at the table of learning like *people*, thinking they’ll get fed! lolz.

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Chris Williams 09.27.09 at 5:39 pm

SF: “even real life (insofar as it still exists)”

I think I see the problem just there.

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Harry 09.27.09 at 7:49 pm

Doctor Science, I’m just guessing that you have the good fortune not to know who Jeremy Clarkson is. magistra was one-upping belle and daniel and everyone else on the thread, all of whom now sound, by comparison, like Kealey’s fans….

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Walt 09.27.09 at 8:20 pm

Yeah, Salient, if you are not aware of the entire commenting oeuvre of Fuller, you have no place commenting here. The Collected Works are available at a Google Search near you.

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Salient 09.28.09 at 12:42 pm

All of your questions and remarks, like so many blog postings in general, display a complete lack of context beyond what has been going on in the immediate thread.

Well, that might be… intentional. Water under the bridge, right? It sounds to me like Chris laid out the context of which you speak with even-handed clarity and frankness (and I say this having watched it all unfold in real time, and having taken some incidental participation in the drama at various points).

I did interpret your comment #30 as a more or less direct response to my comment #29, which is why I responded. I was the one to (playfully) call for egging (since I don’t have any knowledge of Jeremy Clarkson, I will have to trust that I’ve been well and truly 1-upped).

So, out of everyone at that point, I was the one most straightforwardly susceptible to your critique (perhaps everyone but Doctor Science). I still don’t accept “but a woman commissioned it and liked it” as a valid negation of the offense I took.

Really? I’m assuming that by “grand satire” we mean “as in Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’”, the gold standard for satire.

Well, absolutely anything could be called a “attempt” at grand satire (see below). I do agree comprehensively and categorically with your judgment of, and your interpretation of, the article. The piece is not coherent as grand satire.

Yeah, Salient, if you are not aware of the entire commenting oeuvre of Fuller, you have no place commenting here.

Heh. Alright, I’ll get my coat.

The Collected Works are available at a Google Search near you.

Actually not, or at least not completely, ever since the Great Server Collapse of 2009. The bytes of History got bit!

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Barry 09.28.09 at 1:11 pm

If one wants to get a better handle on Steve Fuller, one could go to the
‘Republican War on Science Seminar: Index’ (http://crookedtimber.org/category/chris-mooney-seminar/)

Steve participated (as an alleged expert on the sociology of science, who favored counting ‘intelligent design’ as science).

Steve also commented (at multi-page length) and guest-posted on Michael Berube’s blog.

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Salient 09.28.09 at 2:09 pm

If one wants to get a better handle on Steve Fuller

But isn’t the theme du jour “look, but don’t touch” ?

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agenbite 09.29.09 at 4:54 am

A tone-deaf vice-canceller named Kealey
Condoned feeling looks rather freely
In a logic so queered
It confused Mary Beard,
And made Scruton appear touchy-feely.

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Andrew Brown 09.29.09 at 5:39 am

“Oh wouldn’t you rather be fucking’em”
said vice-chancelor Keeley of Buckingham,
“than pretending that they
had more things to say
than ‘here you are, Terence, start sucking ’em'”

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