Tag Archives: repellent douchebaggery

Those who can do, teach. Those who can’t do, bitch.

So I read this article that really got my goat about how young people are idiots.  It’s the standard blubber about how kids today are so addled by technology and instant gratification and being raised to have too much self-esteem.  What a load of tripe.  It makes me feel ranty.  Indulge me while I quote:

Susan Maushart, a mother of three, says her teenage daughter “literally does not know how to use a can opener. Most cans come with pull-tops these days. I see her reaching for a can that requires a can opener, and her shoulders slump and she goes for something else.”

While it may be mildly sad that this woman’s daughter does not have the mechanical wherewithal to figure out the workings of a can opener on her own, it is the mother who is the far bigger dumbass in this scenario.  How about getting off your duff and showing your kid how the bloody thing works by using it in front of her once?  I am so weary of the type of parent who disdains her children because they do not know what she should have taught them in the first place.

By teaching someone something, you do not only teach them the material at hand; you model for them a mode of being that (a) propagates civilization from one generation to the next and (b) happens to be really fun.  Isn’t teaching kids how to get along in the world the whole point of having them?  Are there people out there who have children because they think it will be fun to spend a few years sleepless and buried and poop, not to mention being crippled financially for decades?  It is watching those kids emerge from the primordial soup of their inchoate consciousness that is so wonderful–it is them knowing something because you taught it to them that makes the whole life-altering endeavor worthwhile.  And they are dying to learn, they are mewling with their maws open for you to feed them the world.

Yes, occasionally you run into a surly, spoiled kid who doesn’t give a shit.  As one who has worked in the educational system, I will tell you that such a child is the exception rather than the rule.  I have been consistently moved by the boundless curiosity of the young.  It would befit their elders not to lose this quality.

So, if your kid can’t figure out a seemingly simple mechanical task, may I humbly suggest that it would be more productive for you, the child, and the human race as a whole if you simply show the kid how to do it rather than bitch that they can’t.  And if you must be aghast at their incompetence, do so quietly, feeling a healthy twinge of responsibility that you saddled them with your poor can’t-figure-out-a-can-opener genes in the first place.

Okay, I feel better.  I will now resume life.

Humanist SMASH

So, this simplistic, poorly written tripe by David Brooks has been making the rounds among humanists lately.  The humanities are rightfully concerned about being waning relics in our modern world; academics who study all forms of art constantly have to defend their existence, have to convince the funding forces that be that they are not obsolete.  This is sad.  Sadder still would be to read the column linked above and propagate it as an endorsement of the humanities.  It’s awful.  Get off my side, Brooks!

First, there is that cringe-worthy “Big Shaggy” thing.  Clearly, his knowledge of Herodotus has not endowed him with a “wealth of analogies,” at least none that aren’t laughable.   Plus we already have a word for this thing he’s trying to get at, it’s called the Id.  Plus stating that no discipline outside the humanities tries to explain human drives is patently ridiculous, as is his observation that the humanities have no “system of thought.”  Plus his assertion that the humanities are useful because they help us be more effective corporate whores makes me want to eat his smug face.  Personally, I think there is no better way to live than “removed from the market.”  It makes it easier to sleep at night.

Brooks’s blather is not an endorsement.  Rather it is symptomatic of the pervasive devaluation of the arts & humanities in our hypercapitalist society–a society so bloody afraid of anything that cannot be handily productized.  The tone of his whole column made me feel as if I were being offered a pity fuck by the most repellent douche bag imaginable.   Yuck–no thank you, sir, I do not need your validation, and your advances make me need to take a shower.  But, before I go crouch weeping in a hissing blast of scalding water, gently rocking and mumbling to myself that I must get clean–when will I ever get clean?–I will tell you what the arts & humanities are for, and why we need them.  It’s very simple:

The arts & humanities give us the inner resources not to get swept up by the unremitting shitstorm of lies inflicted on us by all forms of media and advertising.  They remind us that life is not money, and life is not products.  When the arts & humanities die, so will we.  That is all.