by Henry Farrell on August 14, 2007

“Uncle Zip”:http://uzwi.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/double-bind/ (aka M. John Harrison).

Reading Benjamin R Barber’s Consumed: How markets corrupt children, infantilize adults, and swallow ctizens whole, & invincibly reminded of some of the weird contortions Thomas de Zengotita (Mediated: How the media shape your life and the way you live in it) put himself through to avoid looking as if he was saying what he was so obviously saying, I determined to write a book of cultural criticism of my own, to be called Nuanced: How the contemporary left has been forced into hypocrisy, temporising & doublespeak by the fear that no one would otherwise publish, buy or read its books of cultural criticism. Damned if he does & damned if he doesn’t in a culture that simply won’t be criticised, Barber explains why this can’t actually be described as a form of soft censorship proceeding from what unstreamlined old lefties would have called f**** c************. Not a bad thing, because it forces him to find a new way of (not) saying it, & books like Consumed–unable to point the finger at their own potential readership for fear of losing it–survive the market only on their ability to confect neologisms & catchwords, presumably in imitation of the business bestsellers & aspirational texts which they don’t actually want to be seen to be contradicting.

When I’ve finished Nuanced I’ll move on to Fucked.

Degrees in bootlicking

by Chris Bertram on August 14, 2007

Our new prime minister recently declared that the function of universities is to equip people with the skills necessary for the modern economy. The Guardian’s “higher education” section “reports today”:http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,2147814,00.html that

bq. A degree is being launched to meet the rising demand for skilled crew to work on billionaires’ luxury vessels. …. On sailing and motor vessels whose lengths range from 24 metres up to destroyer-size mega-boats owned by the world’s richest billionaires, it seems you simply cannot get the staff these days.

No doubt some enterprising new university will soon be offering degree courses in being a butler or in being some other kind of lackey or flunkey (indeed, I expect commenters will point out that they already are!).