Sociology

Skateboard Kings (1978)


“Dogtown is what the kids call their hometown, Venice. Venice, California. It’s one of the showplaces of good old American self-expression. Here, you do your thing and the world watches. The kids’ thing is skating. . . . The La Costa boys from the richest suburbs of San Diego see themselves as superior to the wild Dogtowners in the intertribal competition that exists in skateboarding.”

Featured music:

Eric Clapton, “Hello Old Friend”
Roxy Music, “Both Ends Burning” / “Love Is the Drug”
Free, “Seven Angels”
Robin Trower, “I Can’t Stand It”

“Skateboard Kings.” The World About Us. BBC, United Kingdom. 10 Sep. 1978.

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Sociology

illusion of invisible

The philosopher Aaron James posits that people with this personality type are so infuriating—even when the inconvenience they cause us is negligible—because they refuse to recognize the moral reality of those around them.

It’s a pathology that seems increasingly common, I suspect in part because people now spend so much time in the solipsist’s paradise of the Internet that they carry its illusion of invisible (and inaudible) omniscience back with them out into the real world.

Continue reading:

Kreider, Tim. “The Quiet Ones.” The New York Times. 17 Nov. 2012.

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Sociology

boredom

Apparently, boredom was not even a concept before the word was invented around 1760, along with the word “interesting.” The tide of boredom that has risen ever since coincides with the progress of the Industrial Revolution, hinting at a reason why it has, until recently, been an exclusively Western phenomenon. The reality that the factory system created was a mass-produced reality, a generic reality of standardized products, standardized roles, standardized tasks, and standardized lives.

The more we came to live in that artificial reality, the more separate we became from the inherently fascinating realm of nature and community. Today, in a familiar pattern, we apply further technology to relieve the boredom that results from our immersion in a world of technology. We call it entertainment. Have you ever thought about that word? To entertain a guest means to bring him into your house; to entertain a thought means to bring it into your mind.

To be entertained means to be brought into the television, the game, the movie. It means to be removed from your self and the real world. When a television show does this successfully, we applaud it as entertaining. Our craving for entertainment points to the impoverishment of our reality.

Eisenstein, Charles. The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self. Berkeley: Evolver Editions, 2010.

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Sociology

the busy trap

Perhaps the world would soon slide to ruin if everyone behaved as I do. But I would suggest that an ideal human life lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s endless frenetic hustle. My role is just to be a bad influence, the kid standing outside the classroom window making faces at you at your desk, urging you to just this once make some excuse and get out of there, come outside and play.

Continue reading:

Kreider, Tim. “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” The New York Times. 30 Jun. 2012.

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Sociology

stuff happens

Stuff Happens.

That’s the G-rated version. That’s a bumper sticker that only a straight white upper middle class male could have made. Because anyone who isn’t straight, anyone who isn’t male, anyone who isn’t white, anyone who isn’t upper middle class knows that stuff doesn’t just happen. Stuff gets done by people to people. Nothing is a coincidence. Nothing is random. This isn’t osmosis. And so we act as if it’s this passive thing, but yet that’s not the case.

—Tim Wise, author, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

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