Saturday, September 09, 2006
By ADAM SHATZ
One Sunday evening early in the fall, Glenn C. Loury arrived at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., where a group of distinguished black intellectuals, including Cornel West, Lani Guinier and Henry Louis Gates Jr., was gathering to discuss the Sept. 11 attacks. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the keynote speaker, had flown in to talk about possible shuttle diplomacy with the Taliban. Loury, an economist at Boston University who first achieved prominence as one of the nation's leading black conservatives in the Reagan years, was there on a diplomatic mission of his own: to mend the rift that has long separated him from liberal blacks like Jackson. He knew he might elicit more than a few hostile glances. ''I've been trying to figure out who you were for the longest time,'' one woman said coldly when they were introduced, according to Loury. But he decided to brave it.
Shortly before the meeting, Loury walked into a conference room where Jackson was chatting with Gates. As Loury shook hands with Jackson -- a man he had taken to task in print throughout the 1980's -- Gates effusively praised Loury's book ''The Anatomy of Racial Inequality,'' which will be published early next month by Harvard University Press. In it, Loury makes a striking departure from the self-help themes of his earlier work, defending affirmative action and denouncing ''colorblindness'' as a euphemism for indifference to the fate of black Americans.
Jackson said to Gates: ''This man is smart. Whatever his politics, he's always been smart.'' When the conversation turned to the Middle East, Loury sheepishly reminded Jackson of an article he wrote more than 15 years ago in Commentary attacking him for embracing Yasir Arafat.
''You probably don't remember the piece,'' Loury said.
''Oh, yes I do,'' Jackson fired back.''I looked him in the eye,'' Loury recalled a couple of weeks later, ''and said: 'I really wish I hadn't written that. It was a mistake, and I really regret it.'
Jackson didn't say anything directly in response to it, but during his formal presentation he made a point of singling me out. He said:
'To say that Glenn Loury isn't black because he disagrees with me, well that's just stupid. We can't afford to leave brilliant minds like that by the wayside.''
'''That meeting was the defining moment for Glenn,'' his friend Orlando Patterson, a Harvardsociologist, later said. Or, as another scholar put it to me, ''Glenn is finally able to walk into a room full of black people who don't all hate him.''
Glenn Loury beamed as he told me this story in the backyard of his Brookline, Mass., home, where he lives with his wife, Linda, a labor economist at Tufts, and their two young sons. It was a crisp New England afternoon in early October; the leaves had turned a brilliant red and yellow. Loury's house -- listed, he notes casually, in The National Registry of Historic Places -- is a large Federal-style structure built in 1854 by Amos Adams Lawrence, a wealthy abolitionist.
Loury, 53, is a tall, stocky man with a high forehead and a graying goatee that seems to add little age to a face that will probably always look youthful. On this afternoon, he was wearing a sweatshirt that said ''Professor Man'' -- a superhero he invented to amuse his sons. At once polished and insecure, he rarely misses a chance to mention when someone important has found him ''brilliant'' or ''smart.''
The quality of Loury's mind has never been in question. What his critics have expressed doubts about is his judgment. His career as a public intellectual has been a long and occasionally reckless journey of self-discovery and reinvention, a dizzying series of political transformations and personal crises that have left him with more ex-friends than friends. He is both a genuine maverick thinker and a shrewd political operator, and therefore a source of fascination and bewilderment, even to himself.
Loury was reared by working-class parents on the South Side of Chicago, where the color line was an inescapable fact of life. He vividly remembers being chased by a group of white kids when he rode his bike across that line. Loury fathered two children out of wedlock while he was still a teenager, and he dropped out of college and got a job at a printing plant. But before his eight-hour night shift he took courses at Southeast Junior College, and from there he won a scholarship to Northwestern University, where he studied mathematics and economics. He did his graduate work in economics at M.I.T., under the supervision of the Nobel laureate Robert M. Solow . . .
As America's inner cities fell prey to a scourge of violence, drug addiction and out-of-wedlock births in the late 1970's, Loury came to believe that the greatest threat to racial equality was no longer the ''enemy without'' -- white racism -- but rather the ''enemy within'': problems inherent in the black community. Unless this ''enemy'' was confronted head-on, he argued, blacks would fail to achieve lasting social and economic equality. This was not his only pointed challenge to what he called the civil rights orthodoxy; Loury was also a critic of affirmative action and an outspoken supply-sider, promoting solutions to ghetto poverty rooted in entrepreneurialism rather than government aid.
In 1982, at the age of 33, Loury became the first tenured black professor in the Harvard economics department. Despite his sterling qualifications, he immediately began worrying about what his colleagues -- his white colleagues -- really thought of him. Did they know how smart he was? Or did they think he was a token? Before long, he was on the verge of what he calls a ''psychological breakdown.'' As he remembers: ''I did not carry that burden well. One wants to feel that one is standing there on one's own. One does not want to feel one is being patronized.'' In 1984, he moved over to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which had been assiduously courting him almost from the moment he arrived.''
Glenn had no doubt that he was smart,'' Patterson says. ''But I think he was always doubtful as to whether the economics department had hired him because of his Afro-American connections. It was that anxiety about what his colleagues really thought that led him to doubt the value of affirmative action.'' His criticisms of affirmative action reflected these insecurities, emphasizing the stigma it imposed on people like himself.
Loury seemed to relish his chosen role as a thorn in the side of the civil rights establishment. In 1984, he delivered a paper in Washington at a meeting of the National Urban Coalition. The room, Loury recalls, was full of movement veterans, including Coretta Scott King; John Jacob, the National Urban League president; and Walter Fauntroy, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. In a speech calculated to provoke his audience, Loury began by declaring, ''The civil rights movement is over.'' Blacks, he argued, were at risk of being dragged down by problems that could not simply be laid at the door of white racism. The spread of a vast underclass, the poor performance of black students, the explosion of early unwed pregnancies among blacks and the alarming rates of black-on-black crime -- here was evidence, he said, of failures in black society itself. It was time, he said, for blacks to assume responsibility for their own problems; blaming racism for their ills might be emotionally gratifying, but it was also morally obtuse.
When he was finished, Loury recalls, Coretta Scott King wept.
Word of the brilliant, contrarian black economist from the South Side of Chicago traveled fast. Conservative magazines solicited articles from him; The New Republic published his thoughts on race under the title ''A New American Dilemma.'' He befriended William Bennett and William Kristol, his colleague at the Kennedy School. He sat at President Reagan's table at a White House dinner, and he socialized with Clarence Thomas. (Although the two no longer speak, Loury still keeps a picture in his office of himself with Thomas.) While his liberal colleagues were boycotting South Africa, Loury traveled there in 1986 on a trip financed by the white diamond magnate Harry Oppenheimer.
Loury's alliance with the right was rooted in part in his deep aversion to the intellectual conformity he felt the left imposed on black intellectuals; the right offered not only prestige, resources and acceptance but also, it seemed, the freedom to speak his mind. (He was also partly motivated, like many rebels, by seething class resentment: he says that as the son of a low-level civil servant, he felt ''contempt'' for middle-class civil rights leaders.) But during this period, Loury says, he continued to see himself as ''a race man.'' Unlike some other black conservatives, he never called for abolishing the welfare state, and he rejected the idea that America had finished paying its debts to its black citizens.Loury says he wanted to forge an intellectual middle ground, but his willingness -- indeed, his eagerness -- to assail black leaders like Jackson and to align himself with the Reagan administration made him persona non grata in liberal black circles. He was called an Uncle Tom, a ''black David Stockman'' and a ''pathetic mascot of the right.''''It seemed like a classic sellout case to me,'' remembers Patterson, who went 10 years without seeing Loury. Loury's Uncle Alfred -- a proud race man, a steelworker and the patriarch of the family -- thought I was basically selling out to the white man,'' Loury recalls.
The hostility of fellow blacks would eventually take its toll, but at the time Loury took pride in their scorn. While enjoying considerable patronage in the form of corporate consulting fees and grants from conservative foundations, he cast himself -- and was portrayed by his white conservative patrons -- as a brave dissident who rejected the ''loyalty trap'' of reflexive racial solidarity.And yet in his personal life, Loury continued to feel the pull of race. At the same time as he was lunching with fellows from the American Enterprise Institute, he began to immerse himself in a black urban world much like the neighborhood in which he grew up. He started playing pickup chess on tabletops in Dudley Square, an African-American commercial district in Boston. There, his views on social policy were unknown, and he was welcomed, not ostracized, by working-class black men -- the kinds of men he had known on the South Side, the kind of man he nearly became while working at the printing plant. ''There was a feeling for me that I was really blacker than a lot of these liberal black intellectuals who were denouncing me as a traitor to my race,'' he remembers.
As a black critic of racial liberalism, Loury rose rapidly in Republican public-policy circles. In March 1987, he was offered a position as under secretary of education to William Bennett. On June 1, 1987, however, Loury's life veered off-track. He withdrew his nomination, citing ''personal reasons''; three days later, those personal reasons became public: Loury's mistress, a 23-year-old Smith College graduate who had been living, at his expense, in what Boston papers called a ''love nest,'' brought assault charges against him. (She later dropped all charges.)Loury's meltdown had just begun. After the scandal, his trips to Dudley Square became all-nighters. He was staying out on the street until 2 a.m. and venturing into ''some really rough spaces.'' He began freebasing cocaine and picking up women, spending much of his time in public housing projects. ''It was pathological,'' he says. ''I was castigating the moral failings of African-American life even as I was deeply caught up in it.'' All the while, he managed to maintain appearances at Harvard -- according to colleagues, he was lecturing more brilliantly than ever -- and to keep his other life a secret from his wife.''I was bridging the extremities of two worlds,'' he recalls. ''Nobody at the Kennedy School could have known about this other world, and nobody in that world where I was a familiar character because I came regularly with a pocketful of money could have imagined the sophistication and power of the society of which I was a part. So you achieve a kind of uniqueness moving back and forth between those worlds. It was fun. There was a sense of power. There was a real rush. You weren't just breaking the rules. Rules didn't have anything to do with you. This was new territory.''
In late November 1987, Loury was arrested on charges of cocaine possession. After spending several months in the hospital and in a halfway house, he was released, and in January 1989, his wife gave birth to the first of their two sons. Loury's Harvard colleagues implored him to stay, but the scandal haunted him. In 1991, he left for Boston University, which offered him a tenured position and a salary Harvard couldn't match. For the next year, he devoted himself to his research in theoretical economics, which had languished for years, and ''got out of the race business.''Loury's conservative friends stood by him, and Loury remained loyal. During the Anita Hill hearings, he prayed over the phone with Clarence Thomas. In 1995, he founded the Center for New Black Leadership with a group of conservative black intellectuals that included his friend Shelby Steele, the essayist.''We were fellow travelers, Shelby and I,'' Loury recalls wistfully. ''We were partners in an enterprise. We fancied ourselves men of ideas who had found our way to this position out of our willingness to break ranks. It's a lonely business, this black conservative stuff.''
In the wake of his arrest, however, Loury had experienced a personal transformation that was to have far-reaching intellectual consequences. Five months after beating his cocaine addiction, Loury was dipped into a pool of water at a ceremony in Dorchester, Mass., and was born again. He started going to church regularly and was, he says, ''getting caught up in the rapture of these services where people were falling out onto the floor.'' The people who forgave him his sins -- his family, his fellow churchgoers and his wife -- were black, and Loury did not fail to notice this.According to Patterson, ''Religion was Glenn's entry back into the black community.''''The experience did nothing to my politics,'' Loury insists, but the ''processing of my own frailties'' that it engendered, that did have an effect. Now that he was among ''the fallen,'' he found it difficult to keep telling people -- his people -- to ''just straighten up, for crying out loud,'' as he had been for years. It struck him, he says, as ''unbelievably shallow, spiritually, and politically problematic.'' In one of the more revealing passages of his new book, he criticizes the way successful blacks sometimes develop an ''antipathy'' toward the black poor: ''If only THEY would get their acts together, then people like ME wouldn't have such a problem.'''After his brush with the law, Loury became increasingly alarmed by the right's punitive rhetoric on issues ranging from racial profiling to the criminal justice system and wary of the ways in which, as a black man, he was being used as a screen for an antiblack agenda. He was horrified by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's 1994 book, ''The Bell Curve,'' a social Darwinist tract arguing that black poverty was rooted in inferior intelligence. He was even more appalled by ''The End of Racism,'' the lurid assault on ''black failure'' written by Dinesh D'Souza when hewas a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute . . .In a column called ''What's Wrong With the Right,'' published in the January-February 1996 issue of The American Enterprise journal, Loury wrote that while ''liberal methods'' on questions of race were certainly flawed, ''liberals sought to heal the rift in our body politic engendered by the institution of chattel slavery, and their goal of securing racial justice in America was, and is, a noble one. I cannot say with confidence that conservatism as a movement is much concerned to pursue that goal.''
''The thing about Glenn is that he was always a race man,'' says Anthony Appiah, a Harvard professor of philosophy and Afro-American studies. ''I suspect that the Reaganites he was consorting with never really knew that.''Loury's break with the right became final in the fall of 1996 during the battle over the California Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposition 209 . . . . Writing in The New Republic on the eve of the referendum's passage, Loury declared that it was ''flawed both in letter and spirit,'' and went on to excoriate ''colorblind absolutists'' and to argue that ''some 'discrimination' against whites'' may well be ''the inevitable -- and defensible -- consequence of measures to identify and limit discrimination against blacks.''
''There came a point when I couldn't look my own people in the face,'' Loury says, explaining his evolution. ''Everyone else had a place to go. Some would go to Jerusalem. Others would go to Dublin. You see the metaphor. Where would I go? I came back to Chicago and talked to my uncle about what I was doing. There was a reproachful look in his eyes, a sadness. He said to me, 'We could only send one, and we sent you, and I don't see us in anything you do.' Eventually I realized I couldn't live like that.''So where did Loury end up? Not -- and this is what makes him distinctive -- as a traditional liberal. Despite his new appreciation of racial solidarity, Loury remains fiercely independent. His outlook today is an unclassifiable, pragmatic blend of entrepreneurialism, black nationalism, Christian faith and social egalitarianism. Though he has relaxed his opposition to affirmative action, he quibbles with the way it is practiced, recommending instead what he calls developmental affirmative action -- programs intended to improve minority performance while upholding common standards of evaluation. It's a lonely position that infuriates his former allies on the right without endearing him to black liberals like Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West, who recently threatened to resign from Harvard if Lawrence H. Summers, the school's new president, failed to issue a sweeping defense of affirmative action. The private Loury is as hard to pin down as the public intellectual: an affluent homeowner in a largely white suburb who retains a deep respect for the Nation of Islam; a churchgoer who jogs while listening to gangsta rap on his Walkman.''The Anatomy of Racial Inequality,'' based on lectures he gave in 2000 at the Dubois Institute at Harvard, offers a bracing philosophical defense of his new views. Returning to an argument he first presented in his dissertation, Loury argues that blacks are no longer held back by ''discrimination in contract'' -- discrimination in the job market -- but rather by ''discrimination in contact,'' informal and entirely legal patterns of socializing and networking that tend to exclude blacks and thereby perpetuate racial inequality. At the root of this unofficial discrimination, he says, is ''stigma,'' a subtle yet pervasive form of antiblack bias. According to Loury, stigma explains why many white Americans, as well as some blacks, view the imprisonment of 1.2 million African-American men as a ''communal disgrace'' rather than as ''an American tragedy.''Of course, Loury himself once perceived the plight of the underclass in similar terms. As he wrote in 1985, ''Whatever fault may be placed upon racism in America, the responsibility for the behavior of black youngsters lies squarely on the shoulders of the black community itself.'' In his new book, by contrast, Loury asserts that the miseries of the ghetto can ''only be seen as a domestic product . . . for which the entire nation bears a responsibility.''. . . Loury's embrace of his black identity is striking and, to some of his black friends, a touch overeager. ''Glenn is into sports now,'' says Patterson, who formed a close friendship with Loury again in the mid-90's. ''He's into basketball. He's developed a sort of pride in things black, and a sensitivity about any negative comments made about the group. I became a little concerned when Glenn started listening to gangsta rap. I thought there was a little overcompensation involved.''It's hard not to conclude that Loury's intellectual positions today reflect shifting personal needs as much as shifting intellectual convictions. As Patterson points out, ''Glenn had argued so powerfully against affirmative action that the shift in position struck me more as a signal to the black community that he wanted back in, rather than a strongly intellectual change of heart.''Loury, for his part, doesn't disagree: ''I don't know if I want to concede the point to Orlando, that there's no intellectual substance to the change of mind. But I think that's a pretty astute observation on his part.'' Still, he says, ''as long as I can give a more-or-less cogent account of what the current position is, I don't worry about the insincerity problem.'' When I asked him why he constantly changes his mind, he fell silent, pounding his fist on his desk. Leaning back in his chair, he stared quietly at the ceiling. Nearly a minute passed. This was the first time I had seen him at a loss for words. ''There may be something in my personality that doesn't feel comfortable getting along,'' he finally said -- an answer that nicely omits his equally strongdesire to belong.The question of belonging, of course, is one that all public intellectuals face, but it weighs especially heavily on black intellectuals who write about race. If you're a white college professor, you can float half-formed ideas and say controversial things; that's what you're paid to do. To be a black intellectual in the race debate is to have an audience with expectations, even demands; an audience anxious to know which side you're on.You might imagine that the ambiguities of the post-civil-rights era -- in which the problems may be clear but the solutions are not -- would reduce the pressures toward intellectual conformity, but Loury's career suggests that the opposite is true. Debates over affirmative action and reparations are often so polarized as to leave little room for iconoclasts. To dissent, on either side, means you may find yourself in a lonely place, your loyalty -- even your blackness -- in question.Throughout our conversations, I had the odd sense that both Loury and I were after the same thing: an understanding of Glenn Loury -- or, more precisely, how the old Loury became the new Loury. He often talks about his past self as if he were someone else, as if the only thing the two Lourys had in common were a body. Loury has been through therapy, and he often talks like a classic analysand, putting himself on the couch and registering genuine bafflement at how he got there. ''Friends of mine sometimes have joked to me that the old Loury and the new Loury should have a conversation,'' he says, chuckling ruefully.When you spend time with Loury, you feel that he's still sorting out his past, still trying to figure out what has led him away from and toward the embrace of his race. He is incredibly self-conscious, and yet all his introspection has failed to yield any answers that satisfy him. The day after I interviewed him for the first time, we were walking along Commonwealth Avenue, just outside his office. ''I feel like I spilled my guts yesterday,'' he confessed. ''But you know, what I said was something of a revelation to me too. Because parts of my life are still a blur to me. I don't have a coherent narrative yet.''
Adam Shatz is a writer who lives in New York City.
New York Times
THERE was a time when to project an image of industriousness and responsibility, all a person had to do was wake at the crack of dawn. But in a culture obsessed with status—in which every conceivable personal detail stands as a marker of one's ambition or lack thereof—waking at dawn means simply running with the pack. To really get ahead in the world, to obtain the sacred stuff of C.E.O.'s and overachievers, one must get up before the other guy, when the roosters themselves are still deep in REM sleep. And of course since so few people are awake at such an ungodly hour, the early risers of the world take special pains to let everyone else know of their impressive circadian discipline.
"I'm an early riser, I'm achievement driven, and oh, my, has it served me well in the business world," said Otto Kroeger, a motivational speaker and business consultant in Fairfax, Va. Mr. Kroeger, who says he routinely rises at 4 a.m., preaches about the advantage of getting up before dawn to audiences and clients. "For 13 years," Mr. Kroeger said, "I never allowed myself more than 4 hours in any 24-hour period. It was all ego driven. My psyche was saying, 'I can do it, I can outlast.' It's a version of the old Broadway song from 'Annie Get Your Gun': 'Anything you can do, I can do better.' "
For late risers, the crack of dawn was a formidable enough benchmark. In today's age of competitive waking, they're made to feel even worse. The writer Cynthia Ozick, who goes to bed after 3 a.m. and wakes up sometime after noon, said she lives with constant disapproval. "I'm a creature of bad habits in the eyes of the world," she said. When Ms. Ozick answers the telephone in the early afternoon, she said, "you're approached in the most accusing voice—'Did I wake you?' "
At least since Benjamin Franklin included the proverb "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" in his Poor Richard's Almanac, Americans have looked at sleeping habits as a measure of a person's character. Perhaps because in the agrarian past people had to wake at dawn to get in a full day's work outside, late sleepers have been viewed as a drag on the collective good.
Even today, said Edward J. Stepanski, the director of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, "it's a uniformly negative characteristic to be asleep while everyone else is going about their business."
But before slinking back under the covers in shame, slugabeds of the world should consider: Sleep researchers are casting doubt on the presumed virtue and benefits of waking early, with research showing that the time one wakes up has little bearing on income or success, and that people's sleep cycles are not entirely under their control. Buoyed by the reassessment of their bedtime habits, a few outspoken and well-rested night owls are speaking out against the creep of sleepism.
"There are night owls who have just had their fill of people making them feel guilty and of other people who rag on them," said Carolyn Schur, a late sleeper from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who advocates for night owls in speeches and in her book "Birds of a Different Feather." "A lot of people are just saying, 'I can't take it anymore.' "
Whatever the negative associations with sleeping late, scientists say there's good reason to doubt the boasts of the early risers. Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego, said that in one study he attached motion sensors to subjects' wrists to determine when they were up and about. While 5 percent of the subjects claimed they were awake before 4 a.m., Dr. Kripke said, the motion sensors suggested none of them were. And while 10 percent reported they were up and at 'em by 5 a.m., only 5 percent were out of bed.
Dr. Stepanski said the same is true of people who boast they need little sleep. In a study in which subjects claimed they could get by on just five hours' sleep, he said, researchers found the subjects were sneaking in long naps and sleeping in on weekends to make up for lost z's.
"There's a tendency to generalize and to do it in a self-serving way," Dr. Stepanski said. "If your view is that you can get by on less sleep than the average person, then you're going to play that up."
Scientists call early risers larks, and late sleepers owls, and speak of morningness and eveningness to describe their differing circadian rhythms. Researchers believe that about 10 percent of the population are extreme larks, 10 percent are extreme owls and the remaining 80 percent are somewhere in between. And they say the most important factor in determining to which group a person belongs is not ambition, but DNA.
"Timing of sleep is genetically determined, whether you're an owl or lark," said Dr. Mark Mahowald, the medical director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center. While most people are a little bit owl or a little bit lark, for others, Dr. Mahowald said, altering sleep habits is "like changing your height or eye color."
Dr. Christopher R. Jones, the medical director of the Sleep-Wake Center at the University of Utah, said that just as there are morning people, scientists have found morning flies and morning mice. Variations in sleep patterns among the population, he added, may have benefited the species.
"The whole tribe is better off if someone is up all the night, listening for a lion walking through the grass," he said.
The rhythms of modern times are determined not by fanged predators, of course, but by the 9-to-5 schedule of the workaday world. While those hours would seem to benefit larks, there is little evidence that night owls are any less successful than early risers. Dr. Kripke said that a 2001 study of adults in San Diego showed no correlation between waking time and income. There's even anecdotal evidence of parity on the world stage; President Bush is said to wake each day at 5 a.m., to be at his desk by 7 and to go to sleep at 10 p.m., while no less an achiever than Russian President Vladimir V. Putin reportedly wakes at 11 a.m. and works until 2 a.m.
Night owls thrive, it seems, by strategizing around the expectations of the early crowd. Bella M. DePaulo, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who goes to sleep around 3 a.m. and wakes about 11 a.m., said that before she answers the phone in the late morning, she practices saying "Hello" out loud until she sounds awake. Ms. DePaulo said she has been a night person since childhood, and that she gravitated toward academia in part of because of her sleep habits.
"Academia is a good place to be if you're out of the mainstream," she said. "If you're doing 80 hours of work a week, what does it matter what 80 hours you work?"
Dr. Meir H. Kryger, a professor of medicine and a sleep researcher at the University of Manitoba, said that many people choose professions in line with their circadian rhythms.
"There are whole professions that tend to be larks," he said, like bankers and surgeons. "Very often people self-select themselves into that kind of career." Owls, he said, tend toward the entertainment or hospitality industries and the arts. But not everyone manages to find a perfect fit.
Drue Miller, a design and marketing consultant in San Francisco and the creator of a satirical late sleepers' bill of rights online bulletin board, said that when she worked as a Web designer, she was able to indulge her night owl tendencies by coming in late in the morning and working into the evening. That changed when she became the boss and found herself adjusting her schedule to fit the perception that people who run things are at their desks early. "I felt like I was being a 'bad boss' by showing up so much later," she said.
Perhaps the biggest boon to night owls in keeping up with the larks has been the Internet. Ms. Schur, the night owl advocate, said she spends the wee hours shopping, paying her bills and doing her banking online.
"It's a vehicle for maintaining a night owl lifestyle," she said of the Web. Ms. Schur added that if she is expected to get some bit of work to clients or colleagues by the early morning, she typically does it late at night.
"People will call me and say, 'Hey, your e-mail said 2 or 3 in the morning—did you really send it at that time?'" Ms. Schur said. "I say, 'Yes.' "
For people desperate to change their circadian rhythms, doctors say, there are some options. Dr. Kripke said that light therapy, melatonin and large doses of vitamin B12 can be used to adjust the body's natural clock. (Dr. Kripke outlines these treatments in a free e-book on his Web site http://www.brightenyourlife.info/.) But because sleep rhythms are so ingrained, the treatments must be practiced continually and so for many are impractical.
"People come to my clinic and want to change," said Dr. Jones of the University of Utah, "and I tell them I can't, I don't have a genetic screwdriver to get in there and tweak the gene."
Of course for hardened members of the early-to-rise crowd, any talk of being a slave to a notion as wispy as circadian rhythms is a sure sign of weakness. Their message to the drowsy is more or less: Get an alarm clock.
"If you work two extra hours a day," said Brian Tracy, the motivational guru, "you will outstrip everyone else in your field. The question is, where do you get those two hours? Early morning time is the most productive. It does no good to do work later in the day, because by then your batteries are burned out. Most successful people try to get up by 5 or 5:30 in the morning."
He added: "Getting up late, having fun at work, these are all for losers."
NFL coaches, the hardest-working men in human history.
By Justin Peters
The key play in the Miami Dolphins' 28-17 loss Thursday night to the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn't a play at all. Dolphins head coach Nick Saban inexplicably waited until the last possible second to challenge a highly questionable fourth-quarter Steelers touchdown. The refs didn't see him throw the red flag, and the touchdown stood. A rough break, to be sure, but it's only one game. Will Saban lose sleep over it anyway?
That goes without saying.
Saban epitomizes the modern NFL head coach. His in-season preparations resemble those of a student in the midst of a five-month cram session. His offseason work is just as taxing. Earlier this year, Saban turned down an invitation to dine with George W. Bush because it would have conflicted with practice time. Skipping out on dinner with the president is one thing—but Saban also turned down a chance to play golf at Augusta National. "Where I come from, there is no fun-loving," the coach once said. "You work. You work hard. And good things happen." Or, as the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi once wrote, "He's a single-minded workaholic control freak who always looks perpetually constipated."
Saban's not the only coach who fancies himself a long-haul trucker. Kansas City's Herman Edwards begins his workday at 4:30 a.m. Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden is known as "Jon 3:11," because that's the time he wakes up in the morning. He used to be considerably more mellow: When Gruden was in Oakland, he'd start his mornings at 3:17. In 2003, he co-wrote a book titled Do You Love Football?!: Winning With Heart, Passion, and Not Much Sleep. It's unclear what Gruden loves more—football or staying awake.
The list of workaholic coaches goes on: In his first run with the Redskins, Joe Gibbs had his wife tape dinner-table conversation so he could catch up on his home life at work. During the season, Eagles coach Andy Reid puts sofa cushions on his office floor and sleeps on those. (Why not just sleep on the sofa?) Bill Belichick, for his part, says he never sleeps at all.
Judging by the hours they claim to put in, NFL head coaches have the most demanding job in the world—medical intern, first-year associate, meth tweaker, and 1920s-era trans-Atlantic pilot rolled into one. It's no surprise that the rate of attrition among head coaches is so high. A 2002 Pro Football Weekly series on coaches pinpointed two ways that the clipboard carriers could lower their blood pressure: retirement and death. With that in mind, it's perhaps understandable why coaches might want to seize every possible moment to do … whatever it is that they do.
What exactly does a head coach do for 23 hours every day? If the exhaustive EA Sports video game NFL Head Coach is to be believed, the football coach's day consists of scrolling through interminable menus and trying to find the volume control to mute Trey Wingo. Even if the job's a little more complicated than that, there's no way it can require that much effort. Imagine telling George Halas that he should have worked 20-hour days. He would have laughed you out of his office, then gone back to inventing the T-formation. No matter how many variations on the spread offense you come up with, it's still the spread offense, not Fermat's Last Theorem.
Indeed, the head football coach has never done less coaching than he does now. The guy with the biggest whistle has a fleet of coordinators and position coaches that handle all the grunt work, from conditioning to game-planning to skill-training. And the head coach is only rarely the general manager, so he's not in charge of player personnel moves. Instead, the coach functions as a sort of CEO, coordinating large-scale strategic planning while ensuring all members of his organization perform competently.
Viewed through that lens, this endemic insomnia shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, CEOs fetishize waking up early just as much as football coaches. Disney President Robert Iger's day begins at 4:30 a.m. The head of the William Morris Agency sleeps only three hours a night. In a 2005 New York Times piece on the business world's early risers, one motivational expert explained the phenomenon: "Getting up late, having fun at work, these are all for losers."
For these overachievers, sleep is for the weak, and dedication is measured by how much time you put into a job. Endurance is a way for someone like the minuscule Jon Gruden to prove his masculinity. Maybe he can't bench-press 500 pounds, but Gruden can go without sleep for a week. Take that, Mike Holmgren!
Plus, it looks better to fans if the head coach is thought to be perpetually drawing X's and O's. In 2002, the Washington Redskins brought in Steve Spurrier, whose laid-back approach to coaching was worlds apart from the amped-up style employed by his predecessor Marty Schottenheimer. "If it takes six hours to get a good plan ready, why do you need 26 hours?" asked Spurrier, who saw nothing wrong with golfing on off-days and getting to work at a leisurely 7:30 a.m. Spurrier lasted two undistinguished seasons before the Skins, tired of losing, rehired Joe Gibbs—who, in his first stint coaching the team, removed all clocks from the practice facility's walls. Are you ready for some football? Joe Gibbs always is.
But in the end, it's not that clear that these sleepless nights make that much of a difference. Miami missed the playoffs last year, as did Andy Reid's Eagles and Herm Edwards' Jets. The Bucs won their division but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Super Bowl-winning Steelers are coached by Bill Cowher, who sleeps at home and rarely misses his kids' sports games. Cowher was also on the winning end of last night's Dolphins-Steelers matchup. As a man who is well acquainted with the joys of REM sleep, Cowher might not win any masculinity points from his fellow coaches. But at least he's alert enough to throw a challenge flag in time.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
They're from The New Negro Forget-Me-Not Songster: Containing All the New Negro Songs Ever Published with a Choice Collection of Ballad Songs Now Sung in Concerts, Cincinnati: Stratton & Barnard, 121 Main St., published in 1848.
You should notice the joy taken in the suffering of my old dad in the first song. What looks noticeable about the second song?
My Ole Dad As sung by Barney Williams, at the Chatham Theatre, New York
Oh Dandy Jim am sun to death,
An Ole Dan Tucker’s out ob breath,
Something new am good, although its bad,
I’ll sing you a song about my Ole Dad.
Ole dad, old dad, my ole dad,
He took a swim all alone,
He swims like a feather,
An’ dives like a stone
My ole dad went out to swim,
He hung his self on a hickory limb,
He dived his clothes in the stream instead,
An’ dey swimmed away from my ole dad.
Ole dad, ole dad, my ole dad.
He took me to swim all alone,
He swims like a feather
An’ dives like a stone
His great slipstake ole dad did see,
An tried to pick himself from de tree,
But de limb broke off in de stream quite mad,
Down to de bottom went my old dad.
Ole dad, ole dad, &c.
He came up twice to find his clothes,
Den down to de bottom ‘gin he goes,
De clothes got soaked like pickled shad,
An’ down dey went arter my ole dad,
Ole dad, ole, dad, &c.
My ole Missus ‘sprest her wish
Dat I would go an’ cotch some fish,
I baited my hook to ketch a shad,
De first fish bite was my old dad.
Ole dad, ole dad, &c.
I hooked him by de underjaw,
And near de top his wool head draw
An’ eb’ry rag ob clothes he had
Was on de body ob my old dad.
Ole dad, ole dad, &c.
I pulled away with all my mout,
To fish de poor old nigger out,
De fish pole broke, “kase he’d swelled so bad,
Down like a dead hoss went old dad,Ole dad, ole dad, &c.
An now de ole man’s back you know,
He’ll print his travels down below,
But if he makes things worse den bad,
De debil will come for my old dad.
Ole dad, ole dad, &c.
Mrs. Tucker, 17-18
On Nigger Hill, as I’ve hearn tell
A darky woman dar did dwell,
From New Orleans dey say she came,
And Mrs. Tucker is her name.
Git out ob de way,
Git out ob de way,
Git out ob de way, Mrs. Tucker,
What you gwain to hab for supper.
Mrs. Tucker and my aunt Sally
Both lib down in Shinbone alley,
Names on de gate, and number on de deer,
First house ober de grocery store.
Get out ob de way, &c
Mrs. Tucker is big and fat,
Her face is black as my old cat,
Her eyes stick out, her nose sticks in,
Her under lip hang ober her chin.
Git out ob de way, &c
Mrs. Tucker is just eighty-nine,
Her hair hangs down like oakum twine,
Her face so black is shines in de dark,
Her eyes shine like a charcoal spark.
Git out ob de way, &c.
Mrs. Tucker went out one day
To ride wid Dan in a one horse sleigh,
De slay was broke, de horse was blind,
He had no hair on his tail behind.
Git out ob de way, &c
She came home drunk, to de bed she reel,
She put her night-cap on her heel,
She blows out de light, and shut her eyes,
And snore away until de sun does rise.
Git out ob de way, &c.Mrs. Tucker’s heel so long
She ploughs de street as she goes along,
De city marshal say one day
When she goes out she must say
Git out ob de way, &c
We started jis as de clock struck one,
De horse jumped an’ begun to run,
De horse fell down, de sleigh upset,
I haven’t seen Mrs Tucker yet.
Git out ob de way
Git out ob de way,
Git out ob de way, Mrs. Tucker,
What are gwain gto hab for supper.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Are gyms, not mosques, the main breeding ground for Islamic terrorists?By Brendan O'NeillPosted Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 12:20 PM ET
There have been three major terror attacks in the West over the past five years—9/11, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, and the 7/7 suicide attacks on the London Underground. For all the talk of a radical Islamist conspiracy to topple Western civilization, there are many differences between the men who executed these attacks. The ringleaders of 9/11 were middle-class students; the organizers of the Madrid bombings were mainly immigrants from North Africa; the 7/7 bombers were British citizens, well-liked and respected in their local communities. And interpretations of Islam also varied wildly from one terror cell to another. Mohammad Atta embraced a mystical (and pretty much made-up) version of Islam. For the Madrid attackers, Islam was a kind of comfort blanket. The men behind 7/7 were into community-based Islam, which emphasized being good and resisting a life of decadence.
The three cells appear to have had at least one thing in common, though—their members' immersion in gym culture. Often, they met and bonded over a workout. If you'll forgive the pun, they were fitness fanatics. Is there something about today's preening and narcissistic gym culture that either nurtures terrorists or massages their self-delusions and desires? Mosques, even radical ones, emphasize Muslims' relationships with others—whether it be God, the ummah (Islamic world), or the local community. The gym, on the other hand, allows individuals to focus myopically on themselves. Perhaps it was there, among the weightlifting and rowing machines, that these Western-based terror cells really set their course.
The British government recently published its Report of the Official Account of the Bombings in London on 7th July 2005. It reveals that three of the four members of the 7/7 cell seem to have become radicalized in gyms rather than in mosques. Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the cell, worked on his protégés in "informal settings," primarily at a local Islamic bookshop where they watched radical DVDs and at local gyms, some of which were based in rooms below mosques. According to the report, "Khan gave talks [at the gyms], and worked out." He set up two gyms, one in 2000 with local government money—which means that government officials unwittingly funded one of the settings for his efforts—and another in 2004. Shehzad Tanweer, the 22-year-old who seems to have been the second-in-command of the 7/7 cell, "got to know [Khan] again (having known him a little as a child) through one of the gyms." Indeed, Tanweer was as much a fitness fanatic as he was a religious one. Shortly after 7/7, one of his former friends told the Guardian: "Shehzad went to a few mosques around here but he was more interested in his jujitsu. I trained with him all the time. He is really fit." Jermaine Lindsay, another of the 7/7 bombers, has also been described as a "fitness fanatic." A report published by the Terrorism Monitor at the end of July 2005 said that he "met his fellow bombers while attending one of the gyms set up by Khan."
According to the British government's report, one of Khan's gyms was known locally as "the al-Qaida gym." Khan also seems to have used outdoor sporting activities to win over and indoctrinate recruits, and the report suggests that other alleged terror cells in the United Kingdom may have done so as well. "Camping, canoeing, white-water rafting, paintballing and other outward bound type activities are of particular interest because they appear common factors for the 7 July bombers and other cells disrupted previously and since." The report asks if such outings may have been used to "help with bonding between members of cells."
Khan seemed to view gym and sports activities as more than an opportunity for physical bonding; he also appeared to consider them moral and pure, an alternative to the decadent temptations of contemporary society. Healthy living, as a doctrine, appears to have been close to his radical heart. In Khan's talks to young Muslims and potential recruits, he reportedly made numerous references to keeping fit. His talks "focused on clean living, staying away from crime and drugs, and the value of sport and outdoor activity," says the British government's 7/7 report. Perhaps it was the gym setting that nurtured the 7/7 cell's combination of arrogance and fury, its seeming belief that they were good and the rest of us were rotten.
One of the chief suspects in the Madrid bombings, Moroccan immigrant Jamal Zougam, was also known for his devotion to keeping fit. Zougam ran a mobile-phone shop in an immigrant quarter in Madrid, and he is thought to have provided the mobile phones for the remote detonators that exploded the bombs and killed 191 commuters in March 2004. According to reports, he was a "gym-loving man." The French newspaper Le Monde reported that his friends and acquaintances were shocked to discover Zougam's involvement in the Madrid bombings, because he liked nothing better than attending the "gym or the discotèchque." The bomb that did not explode, and that subsequently led police to Zougam's shop, had been planted in a gym bag. It is also reported that Zougam and Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the Tunisian ringleader of the Madrid bombings who blew himself up when surrounded by Spanish police a few weeks later, attended gym together and sometimes discussed politics there.
The 9/11 hijackers spent a great deal of time in gyms. Mohammad Atta joined one in Hamburg in 1999. Upon arrival in America in 2000, he and other leaders of his cell—Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi—signed up for gym memberships. When the "muscle hijackers" from Saudi Arabia, whose job was to use physical force on 9/11, joined the ringleaders in the United States, they were encouraged to find housing close to gyms and to get gym memberships. In the first week of September 2001, five of the muscle hijackers—Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Salem al-Hazmi, Majed Moqed, and Hani Hanjour—were regularly seen training and talking at Gold's Gym in Greenbelt, Md.
The 9/11 hijackers needed to be reasonably fit for their operation. They had to overpower airline staff and passengers in order to commandeer the jets. Yet there seems to have been more to their interest in gyms than building up muscle. One gym owner said the men seemed to gather for "social reasons." And it was Atta, Jarrah, and al-Shehhi, the pilots of 9/11 who would spend that fateful morning locked inside the cockpit, who seemed most keen on keeping fit. According to Complete 9/11 Timeline, published by the Center for Cooperative Research, Jarrah "train[ed] intensively" from May to August 2001 and Atta and al-Shehhi "also took exercising very seriously." The muscle hijackers, meanwhile, tended to "simply cluster around a small circuit of machines, never asking for help and, according to a trainer, never pushing any weights."
Perhaps the ringleaders of 9/11, like one of the prime suspects in Madrid and three of the four 7/7 bombers, had a penchant for healthy living. Certainly Atta seemed to be obsessed with bodily appearance. He advised his team of hijackers to shave off their pubic hair and to douse themselves in cologne the night before the attacks, to ready themselves for arrival in paradise. Islamic scholars have pointed out that these stipulations have little grounding in Quranic law. But they do reflect our keep-fit age. Bodybuilders, among others, are known to shave off their body hair in order to make the contours of their bodies look more impressive.
Today's gym culture seems like the perfect vehicle for nurturing the combination of narcissism and loathing of the masses necessary to carry out a terrorist suicide mission. If some of these attackers viewed their own bodies as pure instruments, and everyone else as wasteful and deserving of punishment, they could just as well have come to that conclusion through absorbing the healthy-living agenda of the gym as by reading the Quran. At the gym, Atta, Khan, and the others could focus on perfecting the self, the body, as a pure and righteous thing—and hone their disdain for others.
So, should we shut down all gyms in the name of fighting terrorism? Of course not. It's a ludicrous idea. But no more ludicrous, perhaps, than the infiltration of Western mosques.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
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Manliness by Harvey C. Mansfield Yale, 304 pp., $27.50
ONE OF THE LEAST VISITED memorials in Washington is a waterfront statue commemorating the men who died on the Titanic. Seventy-four percent of the women passengers survived the April 15, 1912, calamity, while 80 percent of the men perished. Why? Because the men followed the principle "women and children first."
The monument, an 18-foot granite male figure with arms outstretched to the side, was erected by "the women of America" in 1931 to show their gratitude. The inscription reads: "To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved."
Today, almost no one remembers those men. Women no longer bring flowers to the statue on April 15 to honor their chivalry. The idea of male gallantry makes many women nervous, suggesting (as it does) that women require special protection. It implies the sexes are objectively different. It tells us that some things are best left to men. Gallantry is a virtue that dare not speak its name.
In Manliness, Harvey C. Mansfield seeks to persuade skeptical readers, especially educated women, to reconsider the merits of male protectiveness and assertiveness. It is in no way a defense of male privilege, but many will be offended by its old-fashioned claim that the virtues of men and women are different and complementary. Women would be foolish not to pay close attention to Mansfield's subtle and fascinating argument.
Mansfield offers what he calls a modest defense of manliness. It is modest, not because its claims are cautious--Mansfield courts wrath and indignation on almost every page--but because, as he says, "Most good things, like French wine, are mostly good and accidentally bad. Manliness, however, seems to be about fifty-fifty good and bad. . . . This is what I mean by a modest defense."
"Manliness," he says, "is a quality that causes individuals to stand for something." The Greeks used the term thumos to denote the bristling, spirited element shared by human beings and animals that makes them fight back when threatened. It causes dogs to defend their turf; it makes human beings stand up for their kin, their religion, their country, their principles. "Just as a dog defends its master," writes Mansfield, "so the doggish part of the human soul defends human ends higher than itself."
Every human being possesses thumos. But those who are manly possess it in abundance, and sometimes in excess. The manly man is not satisfied to let things be as they are, and he makes sure everyone knows it. He invests his perception of injustice with cosmic importance.
Manliness can be noble and heroic, like the men on the Titanic; but it can also be foolish, stubborn, and violent. Achilles, Brutus, and Sir Lancelot exemplify the glory of manliness, but also its darker sides. Theodore Roosevelt was manly; so was Harry "The Buck Stops Here" Truman. Manly men are confident in risky situations. Manliness can be pathological, as in gangsters and terrorists.
Manliness, says Mansfield, thrives on drama, conflict, risk, and exploits: "War is hell but men like it." Manliness is often aggressive, but when the aggression is tied to the concept of honor, it transcends mere animal spiritedness. Allied with reason, as in Socrates, manliness finds its highest expression.
Women can be manly--Margaret Thatcher is an example--but manliness is the "quality mostly of one sex." This creates problems for a society such as ours that likes to think of itself as "gender neutral," egalitarian, and sensitive. Manliness is not sensitive. Today, we mainly cope with it by politely changing the subject. The very word is deemed quaint and outmoded. Gender experts in our universities teach as fact that the sex difference is an illusion--a discredited construct, like the earth being flat or the sun revolving around the earth.
And yet, the complex range of behavior that "manliness" characterizes persists. It is still mostly men who embody it. We have succeeded in bringing the language to account, but we have not managed to exorcise masculine thumos.
After almost 40 years of feminist agitation and gender-neutral pronouns, it is still men who are far more likely than women to run for political office, start companies, file for patents, and blow things up. Men continue to tell most of the jokes and write the vast majority of editorials and letters to editors. And--fatal to the dreams of feminists who long for social androgyny--men have hardly budged from their unwillingness to do an equal share of housework or childcare. Moreover, women seem to like manly men: "Manliness is still around, and we still find it attractive," says Mansfield.
Mansfield's amusing, refreshing, and outrageous observations must already be causing distress for his Harvard colleagues. But many readers will be grateful to him for his candor and bravado. Today, when scholars acknowledge sex differences, they do it timorously. They follow every assertion of difference with a list of exceptions, qualifications, and caveats. Into this world strides Professor Mansfield, loaded for bear, and lethally armed with all the powerful stereotypes thought to be banished from bien pensant society. And he deploys them without apology in shocker after shocker:
[Women] shun risk more than men and they perceive risk more readily; they fear spiders. . . .
Women seem to desire more than men to make a nest and to take responsibility for making it. To do this, they sometimes need the help of their men, and they nag them responsibly and more or less charmingly according to their skill. . . .
In my experience, it is difficult for a man who is attracted to a woman not to find her cute, rather than intimidating, when she gets angry.
Mansfield reminds us that philosophers and poets were worried about manliness long before contemporary feminists began to anguish over it. He presents a magisterial survey of the role played by manliness in the thought of the great philosophers.
From the Greeks to Thomas Hobbes and Friedrich Nietzsche, philosophers have extolled or deplored manliness--but mostly they looked for ways to control it. No one, says Mansfield, understood the vices and virtues of manliness better than Aristotle and Plato. They gave it its due while "remaining wary of its dangers."
Unfortunately, few modern philosophers have followed their example. The ancients well understood that too much--or too little--manliness is a bad thing. Too much is dangerous, but too little is fatal to a society's prospects for greatness--or even for its survival. Modern philosophers err on the side of wariness and suspicion and, according to Mansfield, "the entire project of modernity can be understood as a project to keep manliness unemployed."
The entire project of modernity? This says, in effect, that modern philosophy has been engaged in making wimps out of men. As Mansfield sees it, since the dawn of the modern era, philosophers have conspired against manly thumos. Hobbes, for example, ignored the higher forms of heroic and philosophical manliness: He reduced it to a simple aggressive drive that leads to a "war of all against all." It had to be broken--not accommodated--by handing over power and rights to an absolute sovereign.
Hobbes placed self-preservation at the center of his theory. But, says Mansfield, manly men do not merely want to survive: They seek glory for themselves and their causes. For Mansfield, Hobbes is the extreme--but still typical--example of modern philosophers' disdain for manliness: "Liberalism is unmanly in setting down self-preservation as the end of man, as do Hobbes and John Locke."
Mansfield himself does not mind being a loner. For years, he has fought a forlorn battle at Harvard in defense of high standards. He was the only member of the faculty to vote against establishing a women's studies major. All the same, one would have expected him to find a few defenders of manliness somewhere in the annals of modern philosophy. But he does not cite any. With the possible exceptions of Baruch Spinoza and Edmund Burke, he complains that philosophers of modernity just don't get it when it comes to understanding and valuing male spiritedness: "Modern thinking does not want to cooperate with manliness, and does not care for thumos."
In place of the heroic, but rationally controlled, conception of manliness offered us by the ancients, modern thinkers give us a pallid, cautious, risk-averse bourgeois manliness--a world of Babbitts, rather than Achilles.
But this perspective is badly skewed. Surely Mansfield would not deny that the "bourgeois" male denizens of modernity have been responsible for some of the most prodigious displays of genius in art, literature, and music. They invented science, the free market, and liberal government, and they refined the art of war, magnifying its lethality a thousandfold. It would appear that Mansfield systematically underestimates the manliness of modern man, and of philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, Francis Bacon, and René Descartes who helped create him.
His discussion of Nietzsche's powerful influence on contemporary feminism shows Mansfield at his philosophical best and manly worst. Here, more than elsewhere, Mansfield dazzles us with the aptness of his insights, while being recklessly inattentive to nuance, exceptions, and complexity. He has no doubts about Nietzsche's manliness. He sets up a dramatic contrast between the manly ideal favored by Plato and Aristotle and the unrestrained masculinity promoted by Nietzsche.
Both Plato and Aristotle developed a conception of ethical manliness based on courage, tying manliness to protectiveness and reason. Manly men (and women) are the guardians of Plato's Republic; they are the noble gentlemen in Aristotle's polis. Both maintained that philosophers, not warriors, are the manliest of all.
By contrast, Nietzsche, a classicist by training, idealized the pre-Socratic Homeric age. He preferred the warrior to the philosopher, exalting Achilles over Socrates. He criticized Plato and Aristotle for putting reason above passion. For Nietzsche, says Mansfield, "Humanity is not to be found in reason but rather in the spark of life--the assertion of each man's life by that man." Nietzsche has burdened modernity with an exceptionally dangerous philosophy that Mansfield calls "manly nihilism." Where Plato and Aristotle place severe constraints on manly expression, Nietzsche gives us a manliness unrestrained by anything outside itself. Says Mansfield: "Manly assertiveness feeds on itself alone, and does not serve to protect and defend a cause greater than itself."
So where did contemporary feminists turn for philosophical inspiration? They had their pick of any number of the polite, sensible, and sensitive thinkers of modernity. John Stuart Mill would have been perfectly suitable. But no, says Mansfield, they turned down this nice guy--"a wimp when you come down to it"--and "went mad for crazy manly Nietzsche."
Nietzsche is hardly the philosopher one would expect to emerge as the muse for modern feminism. Not only did he valorize unrestrained male assertion, his contempt for women was famously explicit:
The true man wants two things, danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.
When a woman has scholarly inclinations there is usually something wrong with her sexually.
In another context, he said women were for the "recreation of the warrior." His advice to men on the subject of women: "Forget not thy whip." Why, then, did Nietzsche's point of view appeal so strongly to intellectual feminists?
"In the 1970s," says Mansfield, "nihilism came to American women. . . . What interested [feminists] in Nietzsche was the nihilism he proclaimed as fact--God is Dead--and the possibility of creating a new order in its place." Of course, most American women were not reading Nietzsche. But many did read Simone de Beauvoir, and she was the herald of the new nihilism.
In Mansfield's words, she was "Nietzsche in drag." Far from being critical of Nietzsche's hypermasculine fantasies, his "will to power," and his rejection of the Judeo-Christian ethic--she embraced it all and urged women to emulate it.
Beauvoir famously said, "One is not born, but becomes a woman." She rejected the idea that there is anything like human nature or any other source of an authoritative moral order. When she said that women must seek "transcendence," she meant that they should reject all the inducements of nature, society, and conventional morality. Beauvoir condemned marriage and family as a "tragedy" for women; both are traps that are incompatible with female subjectivity and freedom. She described the pregnant woman as "a stockpile of colloids, an incubator for an egg." She compared childbearing and nurturing to slavery.
Mansfield reminds readers how far Beauvoir's "womanly nihilism" strayed from the classical feminism of Mary Wollstonecraft and American suffragists. The early feminists questioned the rigidity of sex roles, but they never doubted that there was such a thing as human nature, and that women had distinctive roles to play in the family and society. Simone de Beauvoir wanted women to be free of all roles. Toward what end? She did not specify. Beauvoir's womanly nihilism inspired apostles like Germaine Greer, Shulamith Firestone, Kate Millett, and (to a lesser extent) Betty Friedan. In the decades following the sixties, it became official feminist doctrine.
Of course, as Mansfield observes, women are not men, and so inevitably they are less effective at being true Nietzscheans. Unlike radicals in other social movements, the feminist revolutionaries of the 1970s and '80s never engaged in violence. None went to jail. So how did they succeed in changing American society?
As Mansfield explains, they "relied on womanly devices." They formed "consciousness raising" groups and enrolled in "assertiveness training" workshops. Pronoun policewomen went to work cleansing the language of sexism. Tantalized by the Nietzschean idea that knowledge was a form of power, and not the result of disinterested inquiry, feminist scholars went on a rampage "reinventing" knowledge. In the academy, women took full advantage of manly men's gentlemanly reluctance publicly to oppose and thwart women.
Is Mansfield being fair to feminism? Is Nietzsche its main guiding spirit? Not really. His description of "feminist nihilism" rides roughshod over many distinctions within feminist theory and the women's movement. Alongside the reckless feminism of Beauvoir, Firestone, Greer, and company, there was a quieter, more reasonable, eminently sane version (inspired by those "wimps" Locke, Mill, and David Hume) working its way through American society and bringing needed reforms. Mansfield is aware of, and appreciates the achievements of, this moderate wing, but Manliness gives the impression that Second Wave feminism was one long Nietzschean production. It was more than that.
But one forgives Mansfield his imprecision and hyperbole because so much of what he says is profoundly true. Not all of contemporary feminism is a playing out of Nietzschean themes, but a great deal of it is. He is also right when he points out that many feminist leaders emulate some of the cruder and unappealing qualities of manliness.
An example (not given by Mansfield) is Eve Ensler's male-averse play The Vagina Monologues. This is loosely based on interviews with more than 200 women on the subject of their intimate anatomy. Its more serious preoccupation is exposing male insensitivity and violence. Pathological male thumos is everywhere: The play is a rogues' gallery of male oafs, losers, brutes, batterers, rapists, child molesters, and vile little boys. It is as if honorable manliness never existed.
Mansfield's analysis of women's nihilism gives us the lens to understand these developments as caricatures of the feminist will to "empowerment." It is a form of manly assertiveness unmoderated by Aristotelian ideals. Here we have an example of women imitating masculinity in its lower range. It is the dark side of the "gender neutral society" in which we now live.
The women who champion Eve Ensler's production are rightly concerned about the problem of male violence. But the known solution is to teach boys (and men) to be gentlemen. "A gentleman," says Mansfield, "is a man who is gentle out of policy, not weakness; he can be depended upon not to snarl or attack a woman when he has the advantage or feels threatened." And any gentlewoman or "lady" is naturally more suited for the task of civilizing a vulgar, barbarous male than a whole army of gender warriors.
What would Mansfield have us do? His book is primarily a conceptual analysis of manliness. It is not a self-help book. But it should surprise no one that this bossy, opinionated, and intrepid male thinker has a lot of advice to dispense. Women who like manly men will want to pay close attention. He says a lot of useful things your women's studies professors probably forgot to mention.
First of all, he thinks we should clearly distinguish between the public realm and private life. In public we should pursue, as best we can, a policy of gender neutrality. He firmly believes that the law should guarantee equal opportunity to men and women. However, "our expectations should be that men will grasp the opportunity more readily and more wholeheartedly than women."
Though he mentions it only in passing, it follows from his position that our schools should be more respectful and accepting of male spiritedness; they must stop trying to feminize boys. A healthy society should not war against human nature. It should, he says, "reemploy masculinity." That means it has to civilize it and give it things to do. No civilization can achieve greatness if it does not allow room for obstreperous males.
In the private sphere, his advice is vivé la difference! A woman should not expect a manly man to be as committed to domesticity as she is; nor should she assume that he is as emotionally adept as her female friends. Manly men are romantic rather than sensitive. They need a lot of help from females to ascend to the higher ethical levels of manhood, and Mansfield urges women to encourage them in ways respectful of their male pride.
Men, for their part, need to be gallant to women and respectful. Above all, they must listen to them. Mansfield offers this advice to young men:
Women want to be taken seriously almost as much as they want to be loved. To take women seriously you must first take yourself seriously and after that ask them what they think. And when they tell you, try to listen.
He is not suggesting that women accept a subordinate role; on the contrary, he compares women to philosophers. They are, on the whole, less assertive, but that makes it easier for them to be observant, reflective, and calmly judgmental: "It should be expected that men will be manly and sometimes a bit bossy and that women will be impressed with them or skeptical."
The world of gender studies has never before had to confront anyone quite like this solitary rogue male professor of politics. Critics will rail against his excesses and feminists will be indignant and offended. But many women will be charmed by his effrontery, and grateful for the truth and wisdom in Mansfield's elegant treatise.
Friday, March 31, 2006
He can't escape white people.By Willing DavidsonPosted Thursday, March 30, 2006, at 2:11 PM ET
In late 2004, before Dave Chappelle dropped out, he had an incredibly great idea: convince all his favorite musicians to play a free show, in Brooklyn, for an audience comprising random people from New York and random people from Chappelle's home town in Ohio. Dave Chappelle's Block Party is the result of this idea, and, besides being the most overwhelmingly joyous, enjoyable, and affirming movie I've seen this year, it also outlines a vision of a world where black artists make black art for black people—though whites are encouraged to buy in.
It's a multiracial vision, but a unicultural one: a black polity.
Briefly, Chappelle's troubles: By 2005, he had surpassed Chris Rock as white America's favorite black comic. While Rock was garnering mixed reviews for his routines as host of the Oscars—Hollywood proving more fond of Halle Berry's flavor of blackness—Chappelle signed a lucrative deal with Comedy Central for two more seasons of Chappelle's Show. But shortly after, Chappelle disappeared, surfacing months later in South Africa. He offered no explanation, and speculation centered on the usual afflictions of suddenly famous black men. He, like Bobby Brown and Richard Pryor before him, had taken seriously to various processed forms of the coca leaf. He couldn't stand the pressure of staying funny. He had literally gone crazy and ran abroad for medical care.
The truth is simpler, and more interesting. Chappelle had, essentially, become uncomfortable with playing a black fool for white audiences. Upon his return from Africa, he told Oprah Winfrey a revealing anecdote: While Chappelle acted out a sketch that featured him as a pixie in blackface, he heard a white crew member laughing a little too hard. This was, apparently, the galvanizing moment that caused Chappelle to reassess the intent of his comedy, and the kind of laughs he was giving his audience. As he told Time, "I want to make sure I'm dancing and not shuffling."
In Dave Chappelle's Block Party, the Roots, Common, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Dead Prez, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, and the reunited Fugees all converge on a street corner in what the movie insists is Bed-Stuy (though many in the neighborhood would call it by a less significant name—Clinton Hill) and give powerful, stunning performances. These live moments are interspersed with scenes of Chappelle in Ohio, convincing strangers and acquaintances—the woman at the convenience store where he buys his cigarettes, the entire Ohio Central State University marching band—to get on a bus and come to Bed-Stuy. We also see rehearsals for the show, Chappelle interacting with the local community, and some interviews with the performers.
The movie presents Chappelle and his guests as preoccupied with notions of blackness, and of how to present blackness in a white world. It becomes apparent that this concert is not only a gift to the audience, but, in that the audience is predominantly black, a gift and a relief to the performers.
All the musicians listed above are more popular with whites than with blacks. Hip-hop is, as the media constantly trumpets, more listened to by whites, because blacks are a minority. But the audience for these artists, mostly belonging to a school of rap music that has been unfortunately labeled "conscious" hip-hop, is even more white-dominated than hip-hop in general. When I attended a mostly white, small liberal-arts college in Maine, in the late 1990s, this was the rap music that was culturally acceptable to listen to. It was seen as a thinking man's alternative to the crass Biggies and Tupacs of the mainstream. Nowadays, even many whites have left this mentality behind. White writers on trend-influencing music Web sites such as Pitchforkmedia.com—or Slate—regularly praise the genius behind much mainstream hip-hop, with its fixation on cocaine dealing. Conscious hip-hop, then, is often left with less-trendy white youth, the cultural laggards.
Sad prospects for black artists who are legitimately trying to engage the black personal and political experience. It's no wonder Chappelle is confused: He shares his favorite music with the people who love him. He's unable to escape white people.
This, then, is what makes the block party such an exciting, heady experience for Chappelle and his guests: a chance to speak to the audience they want, not the audience they have. At one point during the performance, Chappelle, ad-libbing a comic routine from behind the drums, beams as he describes the audience: "5,000 black people chilling in the rain; 19 white people peppered into the crowd." This excitement is infectious even through the movie screen; it's impossible not to get carried away by the immediacy of the performances and the intoxication of the political vision. But, after leaving the theater, it's hard not to reflect on the manufactured nature, and the sheer impracticability, of this vision.
Chappelle seems eager to avoid acknowledging this slight incoherence. During one reflective scene, the perceptive drummer for the Roots, Ahmir Thompson, says, "Dave, like us, is in a situation where his audience doesn't look like him—" But here Chappelle breaks in and diverts attention: "Tell him what I said about the snipers." Thompson smiles, slightly bemused. Chappelle continues, "I said the D.C. snipers had to be black. They were taking off weekends!" Cut to the next scene.
Though the artists here are typically aggressive to whites in message, but friendly to them in attitude, their individual politics differ vastly. They range from Fred Hampton Jr., son of a Black Panther killed by police officers, whose militancy is on display in a brief speech to the audience, to Wyclef Jean, who, in a scene where he creates a song with the Central State marching band, ends by telling them never to blame whites for their problems; as long as they have a library in their neighborhood, their future is their own responsibility. Chappelle himself quotes approvingly Dead Prez's song "Hip-Hop"—" I'm down for runnin' up on them crackers in they city hall"—but it's not clear whether he endorses the message, or the medium.
Chappelle's creation, for a day, of a space where blacks can impart wisdom and empowerment mostly to other blacks is admirable and uplifting, but even in this evanescent moment, the cracks of reality appear. The difficulties of racial separatism are illustrated by a young black man who has come on the bus from Ohio. He was relieved to come to Brooklyn, to see tons of people who look like him, more so because a few days before he came, a white person had called him a nigger. The incident? On the golf course, the young man's errant tee shot had caromed into the white man's yard.
All around the scene of the concert, the neighborhood is changing. For instance, I live about 10 blocks away. There's a truly terrific new Italian restaurant around the corner from the scene of the show. As whites move in, seeking a taste of the black experience (much like the audience for this film), a shifting, ever-evolving racial mix has emerged, mostly uneasily. While Chappelle's black polity must be appealing to the blacks who watch his show, in this neighborhood the cars mostly blast the sounds of Hot 97, and the sounds of Hot 97 are not Chappelle's sounds.
Willing Davidson lives in New York.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
The Bronx private school will charge tuition of $31,200 next school year for sixth- through 12th-graders, more than $3,300 higher than this year's rate at the esteemed university. Bus rides are not included.
Riverdale is among several elite New York City high schools that has surpassed or is approaching the $30,000 mark.
Manhattan's Trinity School will soon charge $30,170 for seniors, private school observers say. And plenty of schools are just a hair under the $30,000 threshold. The Horace Mann School in the Bronx, for instance, will charge about $29,000 for the 2006-07 school year.
Dozens of people are often on waiting lists to get into the schools, even as prices rise.
The elite schools are so sought-after because they boast small classes and top-notch teachers, not to mention high-quality facilities, especially for athletics. But perhaps more than anything, the most elite offer their reputations, something that could give an edge to students applying to top-tier colleges.
"Tuition, however high or low it may be, or whatever it is, it still costs us more than that to educate a student," said Mary Ludemann, a spokeswoman for Riverdale. "We are trying to raise faculty salaries, teachers' salaries. The only way to do that is to raise tuition."
In many ways, the higher tuition bills are not a surprise. New York is by far the most expensive place in the country to send a child to private school -- driven by the high cost of living in a city where apartments routinely sell for $1 million and it can cost a small fortune just to park your car.
The median 12th-grade tuition in Manhattan independent schools -- a group not including parochial schools -- was $27,200 in 2005-06; nationwide it was $16,970, according to the National Association of Independent Schools.
"New York is the only region of the country where there are numerous schools in that price bracket -- close to $30,000," said Myra McGovern, a spokeswoman for the association.
And it's not just high schools with large tuitions. At Riverdale, preschool tuition cost $24,500 for the current school year, while kindergarten through fifth grade is $27,150.
While the cost of living in New York is a big reason for the jump in tuition, some schools are offering more specialized programs and classes that also drive the cost of instruction up.
Schools define tuition in different ways. Some do not include bus transportation; others charge extra for things like books and activities.
McGovern said parents feel it's worth the cost.
"It's investing in their children's lives," she said. "Many people are willing to spend that much on a car. This, for most parents, parents who send their children to independent schools, pays dividends for a lifetime."
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
There's a video presentation and article on the Slate.com website that I would like folks to look at in relation to feminist theory.
TV's Aryan Sisterhood
They know only one hair color: blonder! By Jack Shafer, Posted Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006
Here's the link.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Welcome to the Govt 180 Discussion Web Log. This should be a fun way to participate further in Hon 102 and earn some extra credit along the way. To begin with, we're going to have few rules and requirements.
1. To count for the full six points of extra-credit, students need to post 15 different comments over at least 10 separate weeks. Only one post per week will be counted for extra credit between April 1 and the rest of the semester. The idea here is that students shouldn't seek to load up on posts at the end of the semester to claim extra credit.
2. Posts that count for extra credit should be at least 100 words long.
3. Posts that count for extra credit should have a connection (however vague) to political theory (which is a very broad field).
4. Everyone who contributes to the blog needs to adapt a nickname, report that nickname to the professor, and use the nickname when you post. The professor will be adapting one or more nicknames as well.
5. Avoid personal insults concerning other posters.
6. The Professor reserves the right to change the rules without advance notification.