First of all:
I know what you’re thinking. You think I’ve lost my way, and somebody’s going to come on the stage in a minute and guide me gently back to my seat.
Never mind … Mrs. Ryan is just warming up. It’s about learning English. There are many ways to do so. The question is: for what purpose?
And I want to remind you that the giants upon whose shoulders today’s intelligentsia stand did not have to have English, they didn’t have to pass an English test. Case in point, Einstein. He, by the way, was considered remedial at school because he was, in fact, dyslexic. But fortunately for the world, he did not have to pass an English test. Because they didn’t start until 1964 with TOEFL, the American test of English. Now it’s exploded. There are lots and lots of tests of English.
That’s the point. Does TOEFL always make sense, like all the others?
We are steeped in violence.
This past week was of course a searing reminder: Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and the ensuing manhunt that ended on Friday with the death of one suspect and the capture of another, his brother, dominated the news. But there were other troubling, if less traumatic reminders, too. On Tuesday, a 577-page report by the Constitution Project concluded that the United States had engaged in torture after the Sept. 11 attacks. On Wednesday, a turning point in the heated national debate on gun control was reached when the United States Senate dropped consideration of some minimal restrictions on the sale and distribution of guns. Looming above all this is the painful memory of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Now is as good a time as any to reflect on our responses to the many recent horrors that seem to have engulfed us, and to consider whether we can hope to move from an ethos of violence to one nonviolence. Facing ourselves squarely at this difficult moment might provide a better lesson for the future than allowing ourselves to once again give in to blind fury.
We might begin by asking the question, Who are we now?
Clearly, we are a violent country. Our murder rate is three to five timest hat of most other industrialized countries. The massacres that regularly take place here are predictable in their occurrence, if not in their time and place. Moreover, and more telling, our response to violence is typically more violence. We display our might — or what is left of it — abroad in order to address perceived injustices or a threat to our interests. We still have not rid ourselves of the death penalty, a fact that fills those in other countries with disbelief. Many of us, in response to the mindless gun violence around us, prescribe more guns as the solution, as the Republicans sought to do during the gun debate. And we torture people. It is as though, in thinking that the world responds only to violence, we reveal ourselves rather than the world.
Why is this? How has the United States become so saturated in slaughter?
There are, of course, many reasons, but three stand out …
By Todd May, The New York Times Opinionator
Now Europe is no longer boring. It used to be like an instruction manual for a fridge-freezer in 20 languages. It is now like a Bunuel movie or a Dostoyevsky novel, compelling but bewildering. And scary. Even the main characters no longer understand the plot.
I’ve been wondering what this whole „hipster-thing“ is about. Are hipsters really cool? No, they are not. Do you wanna know why? Take a look at this:
We’ve reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality.
Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.
But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of „counter-culture“ have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the „Hipster.“
An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the „hipster“ – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.
Hipsterdom is the first „counterculture“ to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.
We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves.
Extracts from an article published on adbusters. The author Douglas Haddow is a Canadian writer, designer, video artist and general media enthusiast.
Veröffentlicht unter IN ENGLISH
Verschlagwortet mit adbusters, Civilization, Consumism, Counterculture, Hipster, Hipsterdom, Lifestyle, Opinion, Self-Obsession, Society, Writing