“It’s time to stop pretending that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is some kind of timeless classic that ranks with the great works of American literature. Its bloodless liberal humanism is sadly dated, as pristinely preserved in its pages as the dinosaur DNA in ‘Jurassic Park.’”—
Allen Barra, arts and sports writer for the Wall Street Journal, argues that Harper Lee’s novel should be treated as what Flannery O’Connor called “a children’s book.” Why? Because it’s so simplistic.
(To be sure, the opinions expressed are Barra’s own. I only saw the film.)
The BBC World Service had a wonderful program about language last night. Two things impressed me:
Stanford social psychology professor Claude Steele spoke about how to minimize the effect of stereotypes. In an experiment, he told a group of female math majors about to take a math test that women are generally considered inferior to men at math. As a result, their performance suffered because they were forced to multi-task: solve the math problem and think about the stereotype. But, he said, thinking about women who do really well in math helped their performance.
Guy Deutscher, a linguist, talked about how gender in languages can create strong associations. In German, the word ‘bridge’ is feminine. When asked what words they associate with ‘bridge’, people with German as their mother tongue mentioned female attributes such as slender, elegant and beautiful. People whose mother tongue was Spanish, where ‘bridge’ is masculine, came up with male attributes like sturdy, strong and powerful.
“Telling a colleague “You’re wrong” shows more compassion and collegiality than remaining silent—or hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. We need to grow thicker critical skin. Why? Because critical behavior that always results in a chorus of affirmation is nothing more than conformity; because allowing views to persist that need to be challenged is nothing less than critical mediocrity; and because failure to tell our colleagues what we truly think about their work is simple dishonesty. A reshaped critical culture will help build a more robust, honest, and transparent academy.”—
“More telling is Lowry’s dismissal of an extraordinarily important article as ‘anti-war.’ I look forward to the point at which National Review, which remains an exceedingly Catholic entity, realizes that the Pope is also ‘anti-war’ in this and most other contexts and thereby concludes that it would be shameful to continue to cast aspersions on others for holding views they tolerate in their beloved representative of God on Earth. I also look forward to being made Pope myself.”—
“Collaborating with the Association of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, women who have for years publicly demonstrated against government silence on disappearances, the collective has gathered photographs of couples who had children, or were expecting children, at the time they vanished. The installation, continually being added to, has been exhibited in Buenos Aires. The hope is that if any of those children, who would now be adults, survived, they might recognize the face of a lost parent and be reunited with living family members.”—
What the NYTimes didn’t mention in the 2007 story that describes the ”Identity" exhibition is that mirrors were placed between the portraits of the Argentinean disappeared couples. Some of them, kids my age, recognized themselves.
The “adoption” (translate: acquisition) of babies born in prison from “subversive” mothers by childless, unquestioning people (often in the military, or sympathizers of the 1976-1983 regime) is the subject of The Official Story, winner of the Oscar for Foreign Language Film in 1986.
Female TV presenters at Al-Jazeera were apparently told to adhere to a new dress code: hair must not fall to shoulder level and tops “should not reveal more than two inches of the chest from the bottom of the neck where the two wishbones meet.”
Hm. So tacky moustaches are ok but non-facial hair isn’t? And surely “meeting wishbones” are frowned upon as well.
— From London. Still trying to figure this one out.