Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • 3410,

    I have a pretty sharp sense of how much we are missing intellectuals of the calibre of Pier Paolo Pasolini - we need somebody like him desperately.

    Well, you've have been nominated. How about making a film?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    ... there wasn't a public intellectual class capable of strongly articulating the values of society that were worth preserving against the crude economism and short term thinking of the reformers

    why would public intellectuals necessarily have opposed Rogernomics?

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to linger,

    Danyl has clearly and consistently stated that he believes his own education was a waste of money.

    Which would be reason in itself to doubt his good faith. He appears to be a useful scientist, and his blog is often brilliant in ways that would be difficult to achieve without a decent education. He just behaves oddly when he comes here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    why would public intellectuals necessarily have opposed Rogernomics?

    You'd hope some of them would, quite aside from the merit of the reforms (which, if nothing else, where extremely poorly supported by analytical thinking). Simply because you need plurality of points of view and the capacity to articulate dissent in your public intellectual class. Denis Dutton was a right wing intellectual, but I'm glad he was around. Ditto Craig.

    Well, you've have been nominated. How about making a film?

    If only I didn't completely lack the necessary talent, training, time, money and opportunity, I so would! But even Pasolini wasn't born in a vacuum - there were a number of extraordinary journalists, commentators, writers, artists and filmmakers in those days in Italy, and each of their works encouraged the others to think and do more. I strongly believe we need to create the conditions for that sort of talent to emerge and be nurtured and supported - and to my mind it goes through aggressively promoting higher education in the humanities as well as the sciences, grounded in a strong commitment to the public good, independent thinking and equality of access. (Indeed, it's arguably how this came about in Italy, when access to an elitist education system that was perhaps even excessively oriented towards the humanities was opened up to the working class.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    How long has the internet been going and we still don't have this?

    I kind of like the good old-fashioned nong or blithering idiot

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He just behaves oddly when he comes here.

    It doesn't seem that odd to me. He just refuses to adopt the manners of the culture because he wants to remain something of an outsider, possibly for the purposes of legitimacy of his own blog. I respect that, but I'm still going to fight anything stupid he says. Sometimes remaining aloof can help you keep perspective - there are taboo subjects and lines of attack here, which can be cloying for many people who still have good points.

    The funny thing about this debate, is that it actually lay fallow for quite a while. I opted to wait for Danyl to return, and I think others had similar wariness. But then it kicked off again, and practically the moment his name was mentioned, Danyl was back, throwing the word "hysteria" around. Considering that his comebacks got more and more half-arsed as the debate progressed, I'm more than 80% sure his heart wasn't really in it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    A nixe/nixie is also a female water elf...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    why would public intellectuals necessarily have opposed Rogernomics?

    I expect the main reason would be because they disagreed with it. And they most certainly did disagree with it. Rolling Back the State stood out for me as a powerful critique at the time, and I attended many Kelsey lectures, despite never even considering to actually study Law. At that time, I was an ACToid, and disagreed with Kelsey, but the seed of her ideas took hold and tempered a lot of my more ideological views at the time. Eventually, though, it was the anti-intellectual (and anti-everything else too) culture that formed the basis of ACT's support that put me off the most. I could see what a destructive mentality it was.

    It was kind of interesting that I was alerted to her views by my Mum who was doing a Masters in Politics at the time. As part of a research paper, she wanted some more detail on a Chomsky article, and in desperation called MIT in Massachusetts. She was put straight through to him, and when he heard where she was calling from he mentioned that he'd just finished reading a Kelsey article, and wanted to hear about Mum's opinions on the state of NZ politics which he then listened politely to for some minutes, after which he sent her the details she was wanting for her paper. My opinion of the man leaped from "Hokey Left Wing Conspiracist" to "Pretty Good Bloke, with incompatible Politics". So anyway, it's not like "public intellectuals" aren't out there doing their best to make a difference, both in NZ, and outside.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I gave an example. Which was ignored. So bollocks

    Thank you for reminding me that I wanted to give you a giant thumbs-up for that example:

    I have a BA – a very common degree – in History of Art and History. I’m a kindergarten teacher – one would think I would never use my degree. I do, every day. Not always the content of the degree but what I learned from sitting in hours of lectures, discussing ephemera with peers, knowing how to find out about stuff. I can shoot the shit for hours with a 3 year old.

    I bloody love this example, and not just because I trust that "Can shoot the shit for hours with a 3 year old" is a bullet-point on your CV.* It is a source of great joy and satisfaction to me that my just-turned-5 year old comes home from pre-school talking about mandalas (thanks to his awesome teacher with the art history degree).

    * actually, it should be a bullet point on everyone's CV.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Can I also nominate Ben W & Megan C, for their stellar work in the later pages of this very thread, as Public Intellectuals? Because they are.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    How about nixie – an undeliverable piece of mail nobody knows what to do with?

    Or, putting on my geek hat, an ancestor of the seven segment display?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    "I think you'll find that Mr Dentith of Auckland University's Philosophy department is the kind of public intellectual you're looking for." Russell Brown

    I'm so printing that on a business card.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    I’m so printing that on a business card.

    With a little logo of a fez?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Now you mentioned it, yes.

    Anyone have the requisite skill to make me a little logo of a jaunty fez suitable for a business card?

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    We need another word for a "troll" who actually believes what they're saying.

    "Wrong"?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to HORansome,

    Anyone have the requisite skill to make me a little logo of a jaunty fez suitable for a business card?

    I could give it a shot, I have the requisite tools.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton, in reply to Jolisa,

    for their … work in the later pages of this very thread

    One thread doth not a public intellectual make, but I appreciate the kind words. Like Danyl, I’m a general staff member of a university (unless I’ve parsed wrongly his accounts elsewhere of what he does) and so, without the protections of academic freedom or the mandate to exercise my social critic and conscience from behind my (currently inaccessible) work desk, I do my thinking on the internet.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Simply because you need plurality of points of view and the capacity to articulate dissent in your public intellectual class.

    but when has this not been the case? There's always disagreement bacause there's always a range of views. Even the most repressive of societies had dissidents.

    I'm not sure that such plurality rests on cultivation at universities.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Well, if you're willing to work pro bono, then I am happy to welcome you to the club of contributors to my business card.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to BenWilson,

    It was kind of interesting that I was alerted to her views by my Mum who was doing a Masters in Politics at the time. As part of a research paper, she wanted some more detail on a Chomsky article, and in desperation called MIT in Massachusetts. She was put straight through to him, and when he heard where she was calling from he mentioned that he’d just finished reading a Kelsey article, and wanted to hear about Mum’s opinions on the state of NZ politics which he then listened politely to for some minutes, after which he sent her the details she was wanting for her paper.

    What a great story! It ups my opinion of him as well, and it was already pretty high.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 240 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Megan Clayton,

    I do my thinking on the internet.

    Best place for it, and you raise the point Danyl should have been making. That a cultivation of private intellectualism is much harder to prove to be in the public good, and I think it's also a lesser form, and does indeed ask for the lampooning that Danyl was giving. But it's no surprise that it arises in the same places that the public stuff can happen, since it concerns the same subject matter. It also doesn't really form any barrier to public intellectualizing. I well remember such brilliant people as Marcus Lush on talkback when I was a boy, who had extremely insightful intellectual points, but was outspoken about his lack of Varsity. Good on him, but wasn't it ironic that his platform was campus radio, and his audience mainly students? And, as with Russell, aren't such people like him really quite rare? It's the funny thing about brilliant people, rather like rich people. They think everyone can do it, just they way they did. What really happens is that only a small number of people take inspiration, and do it. And most of them fail. Which is the reason most people didn't do it, and why when they are to rise to higher talents, most of them need help.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    brilliant people, rather like rich people [...] think everyone can do it, just they way they did.

    -- see:
    Kruger, J. & Dunning, D. (1999) "Unskilled and Unaware Of It" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77: 1121-1134.
    (whose findings support exactly that conclusion, alongside their main conclusion that less brilliant people are ipso facto unable to recognise that about themselves).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton, in reply to BenWilson,

    One of the challenges to the universities' ability to produce public intellectuals in this country is the way in which there are few incentives for academics to communicate in wider public arenas, beyond, say, talking to journalists, concerning their areas of expertise. Certainly, some see such public communication as a form of public good; Denis Dutton is one example already cited here and there are also postgraduates such as Matthew Dentith and David Winter (the latter of "Ken Ring Can't Predict Earthquakes" fame) who do work of this kind. However, in general, the state's tertiary funding models and, in my view, the universities' application of them require academics to prioritise exactly the kinds of research, writing and publication that is decried as wilfully obscure in the humanities. Most arts academics in my experience aren't sociable, gregarious, extroverted people of the kind who might dwell easily in public discursive contexts. Whether that's because the academy attracts certain temperaments or whether it merely shapes 'em that way is largely moot in the face of the institutional pressure to operate almost entirely within closed, professionalised locii which means that academic intellectualism, if not exactly private, is in practice not more widely visible.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Megan Clayton,

    Whether that's because the academy attracts certain temperaments or whether it merely shapes 'em that way is largely moot in the face of the institutional pressure to operate almost entirely within closed, professionalised locii which means that academic intellectualism, if not exactly private, is in practice not more widely visible.

    I'm not inclined to give academics such an easy pass on this one. They should in fact view it as their responsibility, even if their employer doesn't reward them for it. Very few do. Too few.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Megan Clayton,

    Yes, public discourse in NZ has twisted to the point where it's seen as wrong to have any outspoken opinion at all, if you are ultimately deriving most of your income from the government. For some reason, Governors of the Reserve Bank are excluded from this.

    It's pretty fucked, and I think it's self-censorship in many cases, people refusing to speak out in fear of losing jobs. It's a fear that naturally afflicts the left more than the right because left wingers are much less likely to have independent means.

    And when you have fear, and you don't want to admit it or face it, it's easy to dress it up as something bigger than that. People don't like to feel disempowered so they sometimes cope by acting as if it were a conscious choice, that their valuable thoughts are not for public consumption because the public can't handle them.

    Snap, Gio. Some of it is definitely down to cowardice.

    ETA: And/or laziness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

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