17:26okay so I think I think that myself I17:29might be a little bit of an outlier as a17:31as a club girl because I was much older17:34by about ten years even though I was17:36still referred to ubiquitously as a girl17:37but yeah I mean I had a professional job17:41in a career and I was I was in here17:42doing for one thing but looking at the17:44other women that are in the scene I mean17:47it’s really quite a range of of outcomes17:50I think they it might increase the most17:55their social capital in the sense that17:58they get more ties to people in18:00different kinds of realms than they18:03would if they weren’t a part of this18:05world so you know if they stayed in18:07Nebraska and didn’t try try out modeling18:10or if they tried out modeling but stayed18:12in the models apartment and didn’t go18:14you know to the Hamptons and to San18:15Tropez with the promoter I think that18:18you know on the margins they do gain18:20they gain those kinds of cosmopolitan18:22experiences which might be convertible18:25for something valuable in the future I18:27think that they gain friendship ties to18:30people that they otherwise wouldn’t be18:31exposed to you especially other women I18:33think it is a really important scene18:35where women can connect to each other I18:37don’t think it’s that valuable of a18:39scene where women can connect to rich18:41men so this is a question that people18:43always want to know like well you know18:45don’t these young women these club girls18:48don’t they like fetch a rich man for a18:51husband and this is a you know kind of18:53great dating and mating market and I18:55think the answer to that is no why don’t18:58why not because the well-to-do men are19:00there the attractive women are there19:03right in a lot of other settings you see19:05frequent pairings what stops it from19:08happening in the club yeah so even19:11though women who look like fashion19:13models are so valuable in this scene for19:15lending status they’re devalued for the19:18assumption that they’re just beautiful19:20and specifically the kind of women that19:23are like club girls going out night19:24after night they’re seen as being19:26unserious like this is this is not the19:28pool of future wives this is not the19:30pool of future business partners this is19:32a pool of hookups and people have a very19:35specific term that they use to describe19:37girls that are very valuable to the club19:40and19:40to the promoters but completely devalued19:43outside of the club and that’s the party19:45girl so people would just dismiss party19:48girls as being like I’m serious19:50you know like women women that you want19:52to have it the party but you don’t want19:53to see them the next day yeah so that19:57it’s kind of a I don’t know like being19:59tainted by going into the club and20:02taking advantage of all of the things20:04that the club can offer to a beautiful20:06young woman by making that trade of her20:09beauty for access she’s assumed to be20:12just a party girl as you probably know20:16there’s some modest degree of evidence20:18that attractive people are smarter on20:20average at least so why isn’t it the20:23case that these suppose and party girls20:25a lot of them are quite bright they20:27figure out ways of signaling that20:29they’re smart which is not hard to do in20:31conversation mm-hm20:33but have some well-to-do men who maybe20:35find it hard to meet the beautiful women20:37they want to marry and they go to the20:39club and they look for the signals from20:41the really smart party girls why doesn’t20:43the market work that way why keep apart20:47so it definitely can it worked that way20:50and I think there’s lots of success20:52stories where it does work that wayMelania Trump for example met DonaldTrump at one of these party not not oneof these parties in these nightclubs butshe was introduced at a party that wasrun by her then fashion modeling agentwho was actually regular and one in thiswhole VIP circuit so she was kind ofconnected to this world and that’s whereshe met the you know very rich andsuccessful businessman it by the way shealso had to work pretty hard when shewas introduced to the national stage toclear the reputation that she’s not aparty girl there was like all of thiseffort to say like Melania Trump was agood girl she didn’t go out too muchright she happened to be at this oneparty but she was not a party girl so soI can work and I think there’s probablylots of stories where that does work but21:38for the majority of the cases of the21:39young women who are brought to these21:42clubs with the promoters they it doesn’t21:47work for them because they’re staying21:48with the promoter the promoters job is21:50to keep them at the table their primary21:53being there is signaling their beauty it21:57becomes difficult to try to forge any22:00kind of meaningful connection when the22:02lights are low and the music is loud you22:04know there’s people are you know talking22:07but really like shouting into each22:08other’s ears and so the the setup of22:11that kind of a situation works against22:14any woman who’s trying to show that she22:17is like a real intellectual or she is22:19you know it has some kind of22:20occupational or educational prestige I22:22have so many naive uninformed questions22:25but why is the music so loud in these22:27clubs I found the music loud in22:32McDonald’s right right and so clubs are22:38kind of there also in this business of22:39trying to manufacture and experience22:41like the that annual Durkheim would call22:44this collective effervescence like22:46losing yourself in a moment and that’s22:48really possible when you’re able to kind22:50of tune out the other things like I22:53don’t know if somebody is feeling22:57insecure about the way they dance or if22:59somebody’s not sure of what to say23:01having really loud music that has a beat23:03where everybody just is the same thing23:05which is like nod to the beat that helps23:07to kind of tune people into one another23:10and it helps build up a vibe and a kind23:12of energy and so that’s the the the23:14point is to sort of lose yourself in the23:16music in these spaces putting aside your23:19research interests how much fun was it23:22for you to be in these gloves all right23:25so I always say like I really wish that23:27I had met these promoters when I was 1823:29because I was in New York I was studying23:31at Hunter College for a year and if I23:34had met the promoters then it would have23:36been fantastic it would have gotten to23:38you know travel and eat and drink for23:40free and stay out all night and enjoy23:44but when I was going back in into this23:47world of New York when I was 30 31 and23:5132 yeah it was pretty difficult23:54it was pretty grueling so just to put it23:56in perspective the dinner with the23:57promoters would start at around 1023:59o’clock at night we head to a club at24:01around midnight and we stay there until24:033:00 a.m. and the high heels are very24:05high like the expectation is that when24:07where these really high high so it’s24:09like physically hard to to keep up and24:11be in these phases I think that for some24:14of the younger women that’s their thing24:16like they’ll of house music or they love24:18hip hop music they love to stay out late24:20get dressed up be looked at you know get24:22drunk have drugs it’s it’s fantastic for24:25for a young person it’s hard to convey24:27that kind of fun and it was hard hard24:30for me you know being like a sober24:32thirty year olds to also feel it now why24:37don’t they just pay the women to go to24:38the clubs as you know in economics it’s24:40typically assumed a cash payment it’s24:43more efficient than free tuna rolls what24:46stops that from happening24:47right always asking this of the women I24:51would and I would say like you know why24:53don’t we just like band together and24:55agree to show up at the club together24:56and then we’ll each get paid a hundred24:58dollars as opposed to going through all25:00of these efforts of the promoter you25:02know cajoling us and mobilizing us and25:04then he gets paid a thousand dollars and25:06the answer was always no I don’t want it25:08to be work I want it to be fun this is25:11leisure not labor and there’s all of25:12these efforts that are expended to make25:14it look like it’s not work although it25:16is I mean the women are performing a25:18really valuable labor to the club and25:20lots of profits are being made off of25:22them but they don’t want to think about25:25it in terms of work and occasionally25:27some promoters if they’re running low on25:29girls or they’re in a desperate25:31situation for the night they’ll call a25:33girl and and offer her say $40 or $80 to25:37come out as paid and this is looked down25:40on by other women is as being like an25:43act of desperation it’s going to ruin25:45the fun of the night because you have to25:46be there as opposed to wanting to be25:48there but that seems like a funny norm25:51so occasionally I may say to give talks25:53I can assure you that does not take away25:55from the fun that’s what I do25:58couldn’t the young women all just drop26:00this norm and they would get paid and be26:02better off aren’t they laboring under26:04some kind of false consciousness here it26:06is it – it’s a degrading experience in26:09some ways right the loud music so you26:12why not on the money side get the better26:15outcome right so it’s a degrading26:17experience if it’s not fun26:19if it’s not made meaningful and the26:20promoters that are really good at their26:22job they do it really well to make it26:24meaningful with the young women so26:26they’re not just recruiting models off26:30the street you know giving them some26:31free tuna rolls and then you know have26:34it saying like wear heels and dance it’s26:37actually the the promoters spend a lot26:39of time developing intimacy and26:42connections with the young women they26:44talk about each other as friends they26:45use this language of friendship they see26:47themselves as supporting one another and26:50the girls are loyal to the promoter and26:53so under these kinds of terms when the26:56women go out with the promoter it’s26:59usually a combination of things maybe27:01she’s needing free dinner maybe she27:04doesn’t have any friends because she’s27:06new to New York City maybe she is27:07sleeping with the promoter and she27:09thinks that she’s his girlfriend or27:10maybe she really likes the promoter27:12because they go to the movies every27:13Wednesday afternoon and promoters do27:16that they’ll invite they’ll invite girls27:18for bowling or for picnics or to you27:21know whatever Disneyland and so these27:24are relationships that the promoters are27:25cultivating which there then profiting27:27from so it feels meaningful it doesn’t27:30feel degrading and for the women from27:32whom it does feel degrading they27:34typically don’t last very long or they27:35leave over the course of the night and27:37they say this isn’t for me let’s say you27:39sat down with one of these 20 year old27:41young women and you taught them27:43everything you know from your studies27:45what you know about bodily capital and27:47sociological theories of exploitation27:49you could throw at them whatever you27:51wanted they would read the book they27:52would listen to your video talk with you27:55would that change their behavior any I27:57don’t think so no I don’t think so I28:01think that they might not be too28:05surprised even to learn the that this is28:09a job for promoters and the promoters28:11make money doing this most of them know28:12that they didn’t know how much money28:14promoters are making they don’t know how28:16much money the clubs are making but they28:18know that they’re contributing to those28:20profits and they know that there’s this28:22inequality built into it you know for28:25some of the women that had a belief that28:28they had the exclusive affections and28:31attention28:31the promoter that might come as a28:34surprise and those are the those are the28:36satyr moments that I discovered in this28:38economy when promoters are misleading28:42the young women into thinking that they28:45genuinely have you know exclusive28:48romantic or intimate intentions when28:50often a promoter might be sleeping with28:53two or three or several models in order28:56to get them to come out with him at28:58night so for those women they might that29:02might be the drawing line because it’s29:04such an egregious abuse but in this29:07world there’s a widespread assumption29:09that everybody uses everybody else I29:11mean the women are using the club for29:13the pleasures that they can get from it29:15they’re using the promoter for the29:16pleasures they can get from him the29:18access the promoters are using the young29:20women the clients using the promoters29:22the drawing line is when there’s a29:24perception of abuse that people have a29:27clear sense that you know lying about29:30being exclusively romantic would be a29:32clear violation so that would be abusive29:34but use is okay mutual exploitation is29:37okay the margin do you think this world29:40should be taxed or subsidized by local29:43policy and I mean the words tax and29:45subsidize in a broad way like noise29:47ordinances opening hours their implicit29:49policy decisions that help her harm29:52these ventures what should the policy29:53stance be29:55okay well this is kind of out there I29:59think that as as a labor issue30:03this shows the really unequal and unfair30:07terms of the modeling industry in30:10particular and the modeling industry is30:12generating so much profit for the club30:16industry I mean the these unpaid women30:18in the modeling industry they’re also30:21generating huge like untold profits all30:23of these other industries that benefit30:25from their presence in the clubs like30:27finance or real estate where all of30:30these networks of powerful businessmen30:32get consolidated in part you know30:34softened through the presence of unpaid30:36women from the modeling industry so I30:38think that there could be some case to30:40be made that fashion unpaid fashion30:44models or low paid fashion models are30:46doing enormous unpaid labor for all of30:48these other hugely profitable industries30:50where disproportionately the profits are30:52going to men so I could see30:54redistribution working in that direction30:56but if you can’t talk them out of what30:59they’re doing given everything you know31:01and you would be the person to try to do31:03it right right is it that you’re you31:07know paternalistic or maternal istic31:09towards them or you don’t want to31:11respect their preferences or I mean how31:15do you see this at the meta level I31:16think that people participate in their31:18own exploitation all the time I mean you31:20see this in all kinds of different forms31:22of work as academics like yeah you get31:24paid for your talks but you’re doing a31:26lot of work that’s unpaid and31:28uncompensated and often unrecognized as31:30well like all of the service work all of31:33the other things that academia runs on31:34it also a lot of this is free labor that31:38we give up because we believe in it and31:39we find it validating and someone should31:41tell us not to do it but we’d probably31:43still do it anyway because it’s31:44validating so I think that exploitation31:46works best when it’s pleasurable and31:49when it’s made meaningful but that31:50doesn’t mean that the inequities can’t31:52be challenged at a structural level if I31:56had a subjective level people consent to31:57them whose evidence say that academics32:01are left-leaning dentists tend to lean32:03more toward the right what are the32:04politics of fashion models on average32:07but they’re they’re young this is a32:10population of people who are young and32:12often you know politically unexperienced32:15and often not educated especially for32:17women the age for a fashion model is32:19typically they’re late teenage years32:21into their 20s this is the company this32:23is the age for you know going to college32:26so so yeah um I would have to say that32:31they are amorphous and you know perhaps32:34they’re leaning left if for no other32:36reason because it’s a creative industry32:38and they’re exposed to more creatives32:41and Bohemians who tend to lean to the32:43left or tend to be more progressive why32:46is the scouting model so common for32:48finding women who might be fashioning32:50fashion models there’s a scout he goes32:52up to a woman he says you have that look32:54come with me why are things done that32:57way I think that’s happening less and33:00less in a digital and globally connected33:02world so it used to be that Scouts would33:04travel all across the like nine time33:06zones of Russia and go to these beauty33:09pageants across all these different33:10little cities and you know pluck someone33:13from obscurity and send her to Paris but33:15now there’s so many small modeling33:17agencies or even even just women with33:20Wi-Fi connections and instagrams all33:22around the world that they can email33:24their pictures directly to a scout who’s33:26based in New York so I think that that33:27model is starting to cut down where the33:31professional paid Scout whose job is to33:33go on the hunt will become less and less33:36or is becoming less and less but that33:38person will just look through pictures33:41on their computer they’re still scouting33:43but in a different form but isn’t there33:45some physical presence or charisma that33:47doesn’t come through in a photograph and33:49you need a good scout for that because33:51modeling may be mainly isn’t even about33:54looks right so the thing that models33:58sell in the market is called a look but34:00you’re definitely right that it’s part34:02physicality but part personality and34:04that comes through in a picture it comes34:05through in a walk and also a34:06conversation I think a lot can be34:08captured in video and zoom and Instagram34:12so you know I think there are ways to34:15capture that but a scowl maybe who gets34:20a34:20picture and gets the videos that they34:22like from somebody would eventually need34:25to go and meet them in their part of the34:27world it also probably you know34:29depending if it’s a woman in her age to34:31meet her parents as well and to develop34:34a rapport so that someone would feel34:37good about sending their teenage34:38daughter to a new market how good a34:41scout would you be a fashion models well34:47I’m a little bit shy I think when I to34:49go and talk to people so I think that a34:52good Scout they have to have a good eye34:54that’s the primary thing to to see that34:57what they would call like a diamond in34:58the rough I could do that I think that35:00any model that’s gone through the system35:02and is exposed to this kind of look over35:05and over can make these assessments and35:07to kind of see things together how35:08different features come together but I35:11think that Scouts also I’ve spent some35:13time with them they have a kind of ease35:15and talking to young people and they35:16have an ease and talking with their35:18parents and I I just don’t have that I35:20think I would feel awkward or like35:23creepy or in some way like offering35:25false dreams that I think probably I35:27would have serious hesitations about35:29trying to pull somebody into the35:32modeling industry if a good quality35:34Scout goes up to a 17 year old young35:36woman and approaches are about being a35:39model I mean what’s the median or modal35:41reaction to that okay so I know this35:46from interviewing the the models for my35:48first book it surprised its surprised35:51because I say I said so a scout has to35:53be able to identify a look and to be35:55able to see how somebody who is not in35:59the context of the fashion modeling36:00industry could be you know really great36:02under certain kinds of conditions and so36:04these are usually young women’s their36:06scouting stories are like you know I was36:08just coming out of soccer practice or I36:10was just getting off of like an36:11overnight airplane and I had braces and36:14you know I was the ugly duckling and36:15yeah nobody nobody looked twice at me in36:18middle school and then here’s this36:20person you know saying I should be a36:21model in London or something so yeah36:24surprise36:24but do ninety percent just tell the guy36:26to buzz off or what do they do I think36:30if it makes I mean that surprise can36:31come with like fear that this is some36:34it might be shady it could also come36:36yeah with the sense of like disinterest36:40I think that a lot of people in the36:43modeling industry they have a couple of36:44experiences with getting scouted so the36:46first time might be complete surprise36:48and like yeah this might be creepy or36:50like buzz off not interested right now36:52but if it happens again or a third time36:53then it the idea starts to start to36:56develop that maybe there’s something to36:58it and I was yeah did you respond so37:04sorry having a couple of times in at the37:07mall that a scout would would come37:09approached me which state is this yeah37:12so I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta37:14sent a lot of diamonds I fashioned malls37:16in Atlanta and my peers and so yeah37:19Scout would come up and say like all you37:20I’d love for you to come into the office37:22and you know we could probably work if37:25you’re interested – have you ever37:26thought about becoming a model but by37:27that point by that time that that had37:30happened I was already told by people37:33and like my friends in high school that37:35you know I was skinny enough that I37:37looked like one of these girls in these37:41magazines and I should consider it so it37:42was already kind of on my mind that it37:44was something that I wanted to do and37:45then of course my mom she sent me a37:47Vogue magazine 1993 Cindy Crawford was37:52on the cover I still have it and I and I37:55just got really into whatever fashion37:57modeling was I didn’t fully understand37:58but I was like I want to be this do you38:02regret having been a model no not at all38:06I regret that I didn’t use it in a38:11smarter way38:12because I was I think that you know I38:14started traveling to Milan in Japan when38:17I was 19 and 20 and so that’s still38:21quite a young age I think like mentally38:25and emotionally to kind of pick up and38:27go somewhere but if I sometimes feel38:31like if I had had38:32I don’t know better if I knew what I38:35know now you know back then I could have38:38built stronger connections with38:41interesting people like I could have38:43tried harder to understand the38:46creative side of producing fashion yeah38:50I could have tried tarted to get38:52involved in photography which I found38:54interesting but it was always kind of on38:55the margins of so it it opens up all38:57these doors that you know frankly at 1838:59I wasn’t really capable of seeing it’s a39:03significant subset of models who at39:05least to me appear to be distant39:07unapproachable and they look pissed off39:09why is that39:11there’s a wonderful dissertation at the39:14University of Amsterdam called my39:16fashion models don’t smile don’t they so39:20it depends which segment of the fashion39:22modeling market we’re talking about so39:23if you look in your catalogs that you39:26know used to come in the mail that now39:28are mostly online models are pretty39:30relatable that they they have the kind39:32of look that would be described as39:33girl-next-door or like a classic apple39:35pie and you see a lot of smiles when39:37people are selling things directly in39:39the catalog or commercial realm on39:40television commercials as well really39:42relatable people aspirational in the way39:45they look they look good but they’re39:46connecting they’re smiling and they’re39:48not meant to be intimidating unlike the39:51editorial side of fashion which is like39:53the catwalk or the magazines especially39:56the vogue magazines these are the kinds39:59of looks of models that are projecting40:02what people in the fashion world think40:05of as being in fashion and those kinds40:08of models almost never smile there’s40:10almost never a smile on the catwalk it’s40:12remarkable it’s supposed to be all about40:13showing the clothes and projecting this40:16aspirational distant kind of beauty that40:20is not meant to be relatable40:22if I could add you know just a lesson40:24from the art world is that the more the40:28more people and the more kind of40:30socially different types of people that40:32a work of art is meant to relate to the40:35lesser its value so in the editorial end40:38of the market the fact that your average40:40consumer doesn’t get that kind of look40:43doesn’t doesn’t get that cold distant on40:45smiling body your face that’s kind of40:48deliberate it’s not meant to make sense40:50to you it’s meant to make sense to like40:51the Anna Wintour’s of the world now when40:54your work on modeling in Japan you once40:56wrote that Western female models in40:59Japan41:00or often portrayed as quote silly41:02harmless and incompetent why is that41:04equilibrium in Japan so yeah I’m out in41:09Japan and these are just some41:10observations I mean I don’t know if it’s41:13I didn’t do a comparison with the local41:18models like Japanese models but indeed41:21there were lots of observations I took41:24of the Western models coming into Japan41:27and doing all kinds of just bizarre41:30silly things infantilizing things I41:32think that there’s some interpretivist41:35cultural studies that I reference in41:38that paper that suggested this is a way41:40of I don’t know diffusing or yeah41:43diffusing the Western hegemony or maybe41:47maybe bridging the divide between you41:50know Western beauty and Eastern Beauty41:52but I’m really not sure but that also41:55might account for what you call the41:57models passivity in the Japanese market41:59well yeah but it’s really the terms of42:01the work in the Japanese market it42:03produces passive passivity unlike42:06anything I’ve ever experienced because42:08the the language barrier and the the42:13ways that models would usually have a42:15little bit of control in the casting42:17situation is to talk to show their42:20personality is you know to connect to42:22relate and it’s really difficult in the42:24Japanese market because Western models42:27not only do they not speak Japanese in42:28most Japanese people do not speak42:30English the fashion world and lots of42:32other worlds42:33so the solution there is that every42:36agency has like a manager whose job is42:39also to drive the models to their42:41castings and then introduce the models42:43to the clients and then clients talk in42:45Japanese and the model stands there and42:48then the manager introduces the next one42:50so it’s like a just a very weird kind of42:53passive experience it also meant that a42:56lot of my time in Tokyo was spent in the42:58back of a van being driven around with43:00like Ukranian teenagers looking out the43:03window in the middle of these tracks we43:07usually have a segment overrated versus43:09underrated I’ll toss out a few notions43:12you tell me what you think are you43:15the importance of what sociologists call43:18loose ties overrated or underrated is43:24there an option to say it’s like43:25appropriate of course yeah I think this43:30is appropriate I mean I think that I43:33would be either some somewhat doing a43:39disservice to my discipline if I were to43:41say that it’s been overrated because it43:43is one of the major findings within43:45economic sociology that’s kind of43:47continually shown that there all these43:49advantages for having loose ties43:51arms-length ties the French sociologist43:54Pierre Bourdieu overrated or underrated43:57Oh again I have to be careful here44:03because you know one of my fields is44:04cultural sociology again write a paper44:06without citing the guy and I really44:09would say it’s a very 1970s 1980s French44:13notion of hierarchy that is itself44:15hierarchical very limited he covers44:18gender only much later yeah it probably44:21doesn’t even apply to the rest of France44:23yet truer true or false it’s true yeah44:27it’s true and there have been important44:28correctives44:29to that but I think that it was a huge44:31contribution to insert culture into44:34class hierarchy so everybody pays homage44:37for that reason the movie Zoolander44:40overrated or underrated underrated and44:42we should all still watch Zoolander this44:46is a fantastic treatise on like gender44:48and the impossibilities of male Beauty44:51it’s one of my favorites Miami Beach is44:54it actually fun overrated what do you44:56think overrated yeah over it overrated44:59although there’s you know pockets of it45:02that I think are probably more45:03interesting but they the kind of glossy45:05glitzy glamorous part of Miami Beach45:07totally overrated I mean it’s your thing45:10of like all glamour bad food Osaka Japan45:15what do you think um it’s been like 1545:19years by yeah yeah I like those little45:25octopus fried balls under right45:27okay you didn’t remember it would have45:30to be overrated right REM the musical45:35group you went to school in Athens45:37Georgia yeah underrated there yeah45:39although you’re at right now I think45:41that well because of that hit song it’s45:43the end of the world as we know it45:44they’re they’re having a moment coming45:46back45:47perhaps unfortunate champagne I don’t45:50like it am I wrong am I missing45:52something45:52data signaling so much of your work is45:56about signaling do you have to conclude45:57champagne is overrated I have to46:00conclude is overrated but there is46:02something really delightful about it as46:04a party good because you can shake it46:06and spray it without like destroying46:08clothes unlike say red wine and it’s46:10bubbly and you know this is kind of mad46:14it has a sort of fun magical quality so46:16yeah on the whole overrated but well46:19overrated because you can get all those46:21things with Prosecco here’s a question46:24from a reader and I quote quote how has46:26her own beauty and glamour influenced46:28her career academic career does she find46:31beauty based biases in academia either46:34positive or negative end quote yeah well46:38I think it looks matter everywhere in46:39academia is no exception46:41in my own experience there’s this46:45double-edged sword for women’s beauty so46:49some studies show that you know it’s46:51important for women especially to46:53conform to these traditional notions of46:56beautiful but they can’t overdo it in46:58the professional workplace so some47:00makeup is appropriate but like too much47:03eyeliner is considered you know to47:05sexual and inappropriate so yeah I tried47:09to balance that for instance even before47:11I got my job at Boston University I was47:14coached by my adviser to dress you know47:17in a fairly drab way to really try to47:20assert my authority47:22and and to distance myself from the47:25femininity and the beauty which was kind47:27of always going to be plaguing me47:28because of my work and because the fact47:30that I was a model so I tried to47:32distance it as I could you know dye that47:35question though for sure I think at an47:37interactional level having having beauty47:41definitely eases the way for for people47:45to respond more favorably to me because47:49of that halo effect of beauty so you47:52know maybe people are more more likely47:56to answer an email or to agree to a48:00meeting or the meeting will go smoothly48:01and people will listen more to what I48:04say48:05because I look the way they do I’ll find48:07that out I mean that questions to be48:10continued because as we know as women48:12age they so-called lose their bodily48:15capital aging is comes with a decline of48:18beauty for women and so yeah I’ll have48:21to answer that and say you know 10 or 1548:23years what kinds of emotional labor do48:27women professors have to perform that48:29maybe the male professors do not yeah48:32this is like a perennial conversation48:33that I have with my women colleagues48:35about the number of students that ask48:40for exceptions in their grades48:43especially of younger faculty young48:46women faculty the number of students48:48that open up with their problems and you48:51know we are more likely I think to keep48:53tissues in our offices for crying48:55students then like our male colleagues48:58so there’s there’s that yeah just kind49:02of being being a crutch to students and49:05being seen as somebody that’s more49:07relatable by virtue of age and by gender49:10means that we have more of these kinds49:13of drains on our I don’t know emotional49:16work than male colleagues I don’t know49:18if you if you would agree or if you find49:20that do you also keep tissues in your49:22office I don’t but you know my office is49:27so crowded I think actually everything’s49:28in there and probably that includes some49:30tissues I think if you broadly as being49:37anthropological even though you’re49:38sociologists and if you if you view49:41academia with your anthropological hat49:44on what about it seems most comical or49:47most stupid to you or just strange and49:49bizarre49:50the stranger bazaar well it’s a really49:52interesting question there’s so many49:53things about it I guess the way that it49:58portends to be so meritocratic I mean50:01thinking here about academia and the50:04world of professors the way yeah the way50:08that it’s very meritocratic and50:09ostensibly within sociology were so50:12attuned to inequalities by gender and by50:15class and by race like that’s the bread50:17and butter of our discipline and yet we50:19reproduce inequities all the time I mean50:22not in the least with this notion of the50:26disproportionate amount of emotional50:27work of women faculty disproportionate50:30ways that women faculty and people of50:32color do more service work certain kinds50:37of hierarchies get reproduced in the50:39hiring all the time you know so even50:42though we’re supposedly all about equity50:45it’s just the fact that you know50:47somebody who’s tied to a prominent50:50person or an Ivy University will catch50:52our eye and so we’re starting and we50:54have now discussions about how to50:56safeguard against those biases but yeah50:59there’s kind of a bizarre thing the way51:01we reproduce inequalities all the time51:03if we’re concerned about inequality51:05including for women who have a51:06childbearing cycle shouldn’t we just51:08abolish tenure right and or maybe not51:16abolish it but maybe change the terms of51:18it so that the clock doesn’t completely51:21overlap with the so-called biological51:23clock for women who want to have51:26families so perhaps there could be a way51:28to lengthen it or pause it or start it51:32you know in a way that makes it fit51:35better with with having kids there’s51:40also a couple of you know yeah so I had51:43my kids right when I got tenure I had my51:46first child she arrived right after I51:49received my positive tenure decision I51:51didn’t plan it that way but it worked51:54out really luckily but I remember in51:57graduate school a couple of people had51:59kids in grad school and I was thinking52:00like no this is a ridiculous it’s not52:03the right plan like I could never52:05imagine having kids in grad school but52:06actually it does make sense to in grad52:10school you have a lot more control over52:11your time you’re a lot more flexible52:13fewer demands and you can kind of52:16stretch your grad school clock in a way52:18so in some ways I sometimes looking back52:20I think like that’s also an option to52:22maybe loosen up the expectation that52:27that women have kids after their careers52:31are all stitched up because that’s what52:32I followed and it it worked out for me52:34but it can’t work out for everyone and52:36it also was quite a big stress for those52:38six years if you think about the52:41question like what is your unified52:43theory of you you have this early career52:46as a fashion model and your current52:49career as an academic and also as an52:52author they’re all winner-take-all52:55sectors do you think of yourself52:58as in some sense you keep on doing the53:00same thing in different areas or do you53:02think of your current career as a53:04rebellion against what you did before so53:09I should say I was a really good student53:12all throughout high school in college53:13and I got into the modeling kind of as a53:17as a side job and then I I found a way53:20through sociology to turn my experiences53:23and modeling into an academic project53:26and I could kind of even see when I was53:28in college reading these ethnographies53:30at the workplace because I took this53:31great class on the sociology of work I53:34could see like wow someone should really53:35do this of fashion modeling and like I53:38could be the Barbara Ehrenreich you know53:39in sociology of like fashion in high53:42status and so in some ways I I’ve always53:47been a scholar I’ve always been I mean53:49I’ve always been a student first and53:51foremost my my alignment was an academia53:54and I was always looking searching for53:56the status and the the winner-take-all53:57hierarchy of academia and modeling kind54:01of got me there and you enjoy the thrill54:05of winner-take-all markets yes I know I54:09mean I can’t say that I’m like a winner54:13in the academic field I mean yes having54:16good a good54:17your job is because I know that they’re54:19increasingly in short supply but in some54:21ways it’s such a it’s less volatile of a54:25world than these cultural production54:27fields me it’s the complete opposite job54:29model once you get a tenure track job54:31and once you get tenure especially you54:33kind of can’t be fired54:35I mean barring you know some real54:36problems but I mean it’s lifetime54:39security in an age in the workforce in54:42which this is just shrinking it’s so54:44rare to have this kind of privilege of54:46lifetime job security and really like54:48knock on wood because as the54:49universities are facing these challenges54:51it just entered my mind in the last54:54month of like wow what would happen if I54:56didn’t have this lifetime job security54:58that I’ve counted on but it’s a complete55:00opposite fashion modeling is a 180 where55:02you can be dismissed you know from one55:04day to the next and your fortunes can55:06change for the better or for the worse55:07so yeah it’s a winner-take-all maybe55:12like in terms of prestige but once55:14you’re in the tenured world it’s pretty55:17study there’s a common perception that55:20Korean culture is relatively oppressive55:23for young women there’s a certain way55:25they’re expected to look or maybe to55:27have plastic surgery yeah you agree with55:29that and if so why is it yeah and I saw55:34this on the question like I thought that55:36maybe you’re asking me at first because55:37my you know my dad is half Korean so my55:41grandmother it’s Korean she was born and55:44raised in Hawaii but but in any case so55:46yeah I never been to Korea and so my55:48Korean connections actually really I55:51know from the literature but so to your55:53question it’s a common perception that55:57it’s a plastic surgery is oppressive but56:01I think make from my understanding you56:05know there’s an opposite reading which56:06is that it’s really validating and and56:09really quite pleasurable to modify the56:11appearance so in your write in South56:15Korea it’s it leads the world in double56:18eyelid surgery to make that eyelid fold56:20that is typical of Western shape I but56:24less so of an Asian shaped eye and so56:26this is often read as like oh this is56:28like internalized white Western hegemony56:30on to Asian people but I actually think56:33it’s a bit more complicated than that56:35there’s a certain kind of beauty they is56:39really popular around because throughout56:42Asia because of the rise of k-pop stars56:45and this kind of Asian beauty has a very56:48specific kind of face that’s like very56:50pale skin with a certain kind of makeup56:53regime around it and yes that the eyes56:57but I think it would be hard to say that57:00anybody is looking in Asia to the west57:03as the beauty standard I think within57:05Asia people are looking to kpop is a57:07beauty standard now and you know in the57:10u.s. like there’s all kinds of things57:12that could be read as oppressive to the57:14that people do like hair extensions and57:17these um eyelash extensions you know to57:20make really long and dark eyelashes and57:22all kinds of all kinds of practices that57:25when you actually talk to people they’re57:27very validating or they feel pleasurable57:29where do those pleasures come from sure57:32Marxist could say that it’s all false57:34consciousness but I think that there’s57:36probably lots more interesting answers57:39in America today for women what do you57:42think distinguishes most clearly notions57:45of upper class beauty and lower class57:47beauty yeah alright so I think that57:54upper class beauty upper class bodies57:58are pretty uniformly thin and that’s you58:02know the the economy of plenty whoever58:05has money can afford quality food and58:07getting to the gym as opposed to an58:09economy of scarcity having a kind of58:11plump you know a rotund belly would be a58:14sign of having extra money or of wealth58:18so yeah I definitely thinness and if you58:21look at the rates of obesity and58:23overweight you there’s a very clear58:25divide like upward people who are upper58:28class tend to be thinner my people who58:30are lower class tend to be larger so58:31that’s one kind of clear distinction58:36otherwise you know all of the things58:38that are signals of beauty tend to be58:41things that people who have money can58:43afford to invest in so straight teeth58:46clear skin you know blonde highlights or58:52just kind of shiny hair kept up nails58:55clothing signifies a lot I mean these58:57are all things that can be people with58:59money can work on themselves to achieve59:02for a very last segment return to what I59:05call the Ashley Mears production59:07function me who first spotted your59:10talent as an academic okay so there59:15there were two of them at the University59:18of Georgia in the sociology department59:20it was William Finlay he’s a sociologist59:22of work and and also James Coverdell59:25they wrote a book on headhunters and so59:27they were attuned to questions of59:29non-standard work for Carius work and59:32when I I took the sociology of work59:34class with James Coverdale and he was59:37like yeah you should do this like a59:38sociology of work about fashion models59:41definitely then he put me in touch with59:42that with William and I was yeah I was59:45just emailing with them last week like59:47they they stayed my mentors for a long59:49time and if you’re looking for promising59:52young sociology or anthropologists for59:55that matter what’s the non obvious59:57signal you look for yes hard work they59:59should be smart and so on but beneath60:01the surface what strikes you if somebody60:05is read a lot and if they’ve read60:07eclectic things and they have that kind60:09of breadth that strikes me because that60:11means that they’re curious and60:12interested in a lot of different things60:14and that they can bring that to whatever60:17is our topic they end up landing on60:19what’s the weirdest set of things you60:22like to read or have read other than60:24about fashion modeling in the party and60:27like you know guidebooks for restaurants60:30and Economist’s right so I read a lot of60:35ethnographies within sociology that’s60:38probably not a surprise that’s kind of60:39within my field but I’m also reading now60:42because I have two kids I like to read60:44advice books for parents you know60:46ranging from kind of kitschy ones on up60:50to like from economists on like what the60:53data say are the best child60:55practices so that’s where I’m kind of in60:58now I mean yeah having having kids maybe61:00not a surprise kind of put me in this61:02like parenting literature and what’s the61:04best advice you either have read or61:06would offer to other people on parenting61:08to people on parenting sure you’ve read61:12all these books you have an opinion tell61:14the parents out there I said maybe I61:19still need some advice but what do you61:21say so usually that kind of question61:26would invite into an individualistic61:28answer and that’s the problem with the61:30literature that it’s all like you as an61:32individual parent what you should or61:33shouldn’t do and you know maybe because61:37I’m a sociologist but but yeah my advice61:41for parents in this country is to61:43mobilize because it’s a complete crisis61:45that we don’t have paid parental leave61:47that there’s no state supports for61:49daycare I think that that’s one of the61:52tragic but really important things about61:54the pandemic right now is that it’s it’s61:56revealing just how difficult it is to61:59combine a career with family and the62:03United States is just exceptional in how62:06unfriendly it is for family policy yeah62:09mobilize what is your most unusual62:13writing or work habit ok these are62:19interesting questions so I used to have62:22something I used to have it like a62:23pretty consistent flow before I had kids62:25that got that got disrupted and that’s62:27what a lot of people say is like they62:28write in like these certain chunks of62:30time day after day and that’s how62:32they’re able to accomplish it but so62:35here’s a weird habit that I picked up in62:38college I mean it stayed with me if I62:40eat something sweet in college I would62:42munch on like a box of Dunkin Donuts to62:44get through a term paper and now I find62:47like whatever cookie is my kids have no62:49like I always have you know some sweet62:52junk food this is probably not really62:54great advice there for anybody but it’s62:56just my habit now just to the audience I63:00would like again to recommend Ashley’s63:02book it is called again very important63:05people status and beauty in the global63:07party circuit63:09it is quality research fantastic fun to63:12read I learned a great deal from it I63:14think it will be a big hit63:15definitely one of my favorite books of63:17this year or indeed would be of years63:20past and Ashley thank you very much for63:23joining us and best of luck with63:25publication thank you thank you so much63:27again
The first step toward healing is truthfully acknowledging evil, while trusting the inherent goodness of reality.
Knowing and naming brokenness is essential in the journey toward wholeness. We will not be well by denying the wrongs that we carry within us as nations and religions and communities. Nor will we be well by downplaying them or projecting them onto others. The path to wholeness will take us not around such awareness but through it, confronting the depths of our brokenness. . . . As Hildegard of Bingen [1098–1179] says, we need two wings with which to fly. One is the “knowledge of good,” and the other is the “knowledge of evil.”  If we lack one or the other, we will be like an eagle with only one wing. We will fall to the ground instead of rising to the heights of unitary vision. . . .
.. In July 1942, the same month that the Nazis began their first big street roundups of Jews in Amsterdam, Etty Hillesum wrote in her diary, “I am with the hungry, with the ill-treated and the dying, every day, but I am also with the jasmine and with that piece of sky beyond my window; . . . It is a question of living life from minute to minute and taking suffering into the bargain. And it is certainly no small bargain these days.”  Etty was looking at suffering straight in the face. Her friends, her family, and she herself were under the sentence of extermination. It was now beginning to be carried out. And yet Etty held within herself the “handsome mixture” of pain at the plight of her people, and of what one people can do to another people, along with a continued delight in the gift of life and its ineffable wonder. “I have looked our destruction, our miserable end, which has already begun in so many small ways in our daily life, straight in the eye . . .” she writes, “and my love of life has not been diminished.”  To look life straight in the eye, to see its pain and to see its beauty—this is an essential part of glimpsing the way forward.
Nobel physicist Frank Wilczek sees beauty as a compass for truth, discovery, and meaning. His book A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design is a long meditation on the question: “Does the world embody beautiful ideas?” He’s the unusual scientist willing to analogize his discoveries about the deep structure of reality with deep meaning in the human everyday.
.. “Each of us is born to become an accomplished, if unconscious, practitioner of projective geometry.”
.. That’s right. That’s one of our most impressive abilities that humans, children, do routinely without thinking about it — although they have to learn it, or parts of it — and yet, we have not been able to teach sophisticated computers to do it. That is, humans do an astonishing feat, routinely and very quickly. That is, they interpret the messages coming through little, little openings in their eyes and project it on a two-dimensional screen, the retina at the back, which then, the light gets turned into electrical signals. And from that crazy, scrambled encoding, we reconstruct an external world of three-dimensional objects in space. We recognize that if we move our head, they’re still the same objects, and we determine these effortlessly. We do a job which is — it literally is impossible. We use all kinds of tricks and rules of thumb to guess what the external world is, and sometimes it’s wrong, with optical illusions, but basically, in most circumstances, we do this remarkable feat of reconstructing a three-dimensional world from two-dimensional information that’s all scrambled up with things on top of each other
MR. WILCZEK: We take it for granted, but nature has equipped us with extraordinary abilities in geometry. I knew this abstractly, but in preparing the book I decided I should actually learn something about [laughs] perspective and projective geometry. And it was a real revelation. I’m terrible at drawing, just terrible — the worst person I’ve ever met. But I [laughs] learned some of the rules of perspective that artists use, and they are just so beautiful. They’re so elegant. And using them, I was empowered to create accurate buildings and town squares and so forth. I just astonish myself. And I wasn’t able to reproduce it consciously, but now, with knowledge, I was able to do it. And it was just magic to suddenly see these things emerging from geometric constructions, and it looks like the external world. And it had a tremendous effect, historically and psychologically, when these rules were discovered in the Italian Renaissance. It’s one of the things that really powered the Renaissance — the artists took enormous joy in their sudden ability to render the world the way it actually looked.
.. Yes. And people who started to work on artificial intelligence thought at the beginning that would all be trivial, because it’s so easy, [laughs] we don’t have to work very hard. They thought that would be very easy, whereas, say, teaching a computer to play chess would be very difficult. But it’s turned out to be just the opposite. The things that we do unconsciously and are part of our daily lives and are important for survival are things we’re really, really good at.
.. But in science, we need to have a more precise concept. And the concept that we use that’s more precise, that has something in common with the common usage but is a special case of it and gets amplified in different directions, is that symmetry in physics and mathematics means change without change.
Now, that seems kind of mysterious and mystical, but it means something very concrete. Einstein’s theory of relativity, it says that if you ride by the world at a constant velocity, any constant velocity, although things will look different — so some things will be coming at you, other things will be moving away, faster — that the same physical laws will apply to this new configuration of the world. So, you can make a change in the way everything looks, [laughs] but you don’t change the laws.
A simpler example might be helpful here. We’re used to the idea that a circle is a very symmetrical object. What does that have to do with change without change? Well, a circle is an object that you can rotate around its center by any angle, and although it might have changed, and every point, in fact, moves, the circle as a whole does not move, and that’s what makes it symmetric. If you take a more lopsided shape and you rotate it, there’s no way — it won’t come back to itself until you go all the way around. So if you take an equilateral triangle, it’ll come around after you turn it one-third of the way. So it has some symmetry, but much less than a circle. So that’s a concept, change without change — things that might have changed, but don’t — that picks out special kinds of objects, like circles.
.. It turns out that very symmetric laws seem to be the laws that nature likes. Nature likes laws and likes equations that support enormous possibilities for transformation, where things look different, get different names, and different situations are described, but the same equations apply.
.. “Deep propositions have a meaning that goes beyond their surface.” This is so interesting. “You can recognize a deep truth by the feature that its opposite is also a deep truth.”
.. MS. TIPPETT: So one of the conflicts was, is light a particle or wave? And, in fact, it is both.
MR. WILCZEK: It’s both, and…
MS. TIPPETT: It’s both, right.
MR. WILCZEK: …sometimes it’s useful to think of it one way, sometimes it’s useful to think of it another way. Both can be informative in different circumstances, but it’s very difficult — in fact, impossible — to apply them both at once.
MS. TIPPETT: To apply them both at the same time.
MR. WILCZEK: And I think that’s the essence of complementarity, that you have to view the world in different ways to do it justice, and the different ways can each be very rich, can each be internally consistent, can each have its own language and rules, but they may be mutually incompatible. And to do full justice to reality, you have to take both of them into account.
MS. TIPPETT: Somewhere you say, “Complementarity is both a feature of physical reality and a lesson in wisdom.” And I think just what you just said about reality is equally true of — and I know you have to be careful to do too much of this stretching these things, but it’s equally true of the human condition.
MR. WILCZEK: Oh, very much so. [laughs] Oh, I think so. When people ask me what my religion is, I say I’m a complementarian.
MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] That’s right.
MR. WILCZEK: I believe that it’s really interesting and really fun and really informative, and the right thing to do, to be able to look at things in different ways and appreciate their different ways of looking at things that each have their own validity. And they may conflict if you try to apply them both at once, but OK, that’s fine. You apply one at a time [laughs] and try to appreciate both.
MS. TIPPETT: And in terms of this — I have spoken with physicists who will say: Of course, they take their daily perceptions seriously on some level; they understand that, essentially, what we perceive to be reality is full of illusion, and including the perception that we have freedom and choice. But you also present this as another piece of complementarity — two things that, in fact, are true, but hard to speak about in the same moment — that you, as a human being, are nothing but a collection of particles and light; and you are a thinking, feeling human being. [laughs]
MR. WILCZEK: Yes. I think those are both true. [laughs] And they are different ways of organizing our experience of the world, and each one tells us important things. Each one can be very useful in certain applications. But they’re very difficult to apply simultaneously, because they’re just from different worlds.
.. “All colors are one thing.” This is what we learned: “All colors are one thing, seen in different states of motion. And that is science’s brilliantly poetic answer to Keats’ complaint that science unweaves a rainbow.”
.. I’m saying that by understanding the world better that you gain a new perspective on what you are and a different feeling about your place in reality that’s more realistic; also, richer. And there’s good news, and there’s bad news, but in any case… [laughs]
MS. TIPPETT: Right, it’s challenging.
MR. WILCZEK: …it’s something you can — by understanding it deeply, you can certainly enrich your experience of the life you’re given.
MS. TIPPETT: You also cite somewhere what you say is, for you, one of the most beautiful passages in literature, from the 20th-century physicist, Hermann…
MR. WILCZEK: Hermann Weyl, yes.
MS. TIPPETT: …Weyl on spacetime. He’s talking about spacetime from a “God’s-eye view”: “The objective world simply is, it does not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling along the lifeline of my body does a section of this world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continually changes in time.” That’s a very — it’s almost a mystical image. That the world is, it does not happen, is quite a remarkable thing to try to take in.
MR. WILCZEK: Yes, but it’s really, I think, very much what the theory of relativity suggests. It’s really basic, to think of spacetime as a whole, because there are relationships between things that happen in different parts of space and at different times that are significant in forming the laws and the regularities of the world that are very, very difficult and awkward to express if you carve the world into time slices, as we experience…
MS. TIPPETT: Right — past, present, future.
MR. WILCZEK: …and regard them as separate and unrelated, or as snapshots, each a thing in itself.
Relativity teaches us to think of spacetime as a whole and that it’s very unnatural to divide them. So it leads, I think, very much to the worldview that Hermann Weyl was alluding to there, that the world — that is, spacetime — it simply is. It does not happen. It already encompasses all times.
.. “I know not how I appear to the world, but to myself I appear like a boy on a beach who came upon some particularly beautiful pebbles, while the great ocean of the unknown lay before me.”
So he realized that he understood some things very well, and he understood what it meant to really understand something, but part of that is realizing that you don’t understand a lot of things. And there’s a profound humility that comes from really understanding something, because then you understand what it means to really understand something. [laughs] And you realize how much is missing that is different.
MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] And you feel that way as a physicist at this juncture in physics, which is so far from what Newton could have imagined, also.
MR. WILCZEK: Yes. We’ve done very, very well. Physics is pretty good. [laughs] Physics, we’ve attained a high level, although there are certainly big holes in our understanding. But when it comes to the mind, when it comes to understanding society, our understanding is much, much less satisfactory and, I’m fully aware of that.
The departure of Ms. Hicks, arguably the least experienced person to ever hold the job of White House communications director, capped an astounding rise for a political neophyte whose seemingly implausible career hinged on a deep understanding of, and bottomless patience for, her mercurial charge.
.. Ms. Hicks had stopped monitoring news coverage of herself, restricting her television intake to Fox News, which she often watched on mute,
.. Jia Tolentino tweeted: “Goodbye to Hope Hicks, an object lesson in the quickest way a woman can advance under misogyny: silence, beauty, and unconditional deference to men.”
.. Ms. Hicks’s success was viewed as a product of other qualities, including her nuanced understanding of Mr. Trump’s moods, her ability to subtly nudge him away from his coarser impulses and her skill as a liaison for some of the most prominent journalists in the country.
.. “When she tells you something, you know she is speaking to the president, because she is with him all the time,” said Steve Scull
..in an administration riven by infighting, Ms. Hicks’s privileged position with the president meant that, for journalists, she was among the few officials whose information was deemed reliable, or at least not often compromised by personal squabbles.
.. Those confident in Ms. Hicks’s future prospects sounded more concerned about Mr. Trump and his ability to work without an aide he has relied on nearly every day for three years.
“This is not losing a staffer,” Mr. Feldman said. “This is like losing a limb.”
The Perverse Thought of Right-Wing Identity Politics
.. “The Church has become the number one enemy of Western Civilization. Soon the only people left in Christianity will be third-world immigrants and a handful of self-hating whites.”
..Hillary Clinton devoted a speech in Nevada to deploring its influence on the election. “These are race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman—all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘alt-right,’” she charged.
.. Clinton could not name a single member of a movement that, she warned, imperiled American democracy
.. The movement exists almost entirely among anonymous users of the Internet. It has no institutions, no money, no political representation, and no traditional media.
.. It enjoys the close attention of the liberal establishment it seeks to discredit and the conservative movement it intends to displace.
.. “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”
.. The alt-right purports to defend the identity and interests of white people, who it believes are the compliant victims of a century-long swindle by liberal morality. Its goals are not conventionally conservative.
It does not so much question as mock standard conservative positions on free trade, abortion, and foreign policy, regarding them as principles that currently abet white dispossession.
.. Its creed, in the words of Richard Spencer, is “Race is real. Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.”
.. the alt-right represents something more nefarious, and frankly more interesting, than white identity politics.
.. The alt-right is anti-Christian.
.. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it.
.. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.”
.. it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West.
.. Its intellectual birth is marked by the 1918 publication of the first volume of Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West.
.. While the movement is often accused of advocating racial supremacy, its appeal is more often to cultural difference. A generation tired of multicultural pieties
.. A cultural relativist, Spengler rejects as a “ridiculous distortion” any view that privileges European thought or history.
.. “Each culture possesses its own standards, the validity of which begins and ends with it.”
.. Spengler therefore sees the world as divided into fundamentally different cultures, whose identities he interprets in morphological terms. Cultures are like plants
.. They live through a determined cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death. During its lifespan, a culture gives expression to the animating “form”
.. Spengler had no scholarly expertise in non-Western cultures (his advanced studies were in mathematics), and Decline of the West is frequently nonsense as both history and sociology. But its interpretations of cultural artifacts and their hidden symbolic meanings are often brilliant and have enchanted readers for a century.
.. All cultures are unique, but some are more unique than others. “We men of the Western culture are an exception,” Spengler claims. At the heart of his book is an interpretation of the culture he named “Faustian,” a term widely used in the intellectual circles of the alt-right.
.. a single idea permeates the arts and sciences of the West. Its distinctive mark is an intense striving for “infinity.”
.. our culture has uniquely sought to see all things in relation to the highest or most distant horizons, which, in turn, it seeks to surpass and extend.
- The vaults of medieval cathedrals, the
- discovery of perspective in painting, the
- exploration of the New World, the
- development of orchestral music, the
- invention of the telescope and
—in Spengler’s story, all express the Faustian drive toward transcendence.
.. He argues that there is no Christianity without Western civilization. He arrives at this conclusion by claiming the West begins not with ancient Greece or Rome, but with the high Middle Ages and the birth of scholasticism, Gothic architecture, and polyphony.
.. Its cultural achievements are not testimonies to faith in God. They are the monuments of Faustian man’s attempt—in speculation, stone, glass, and sound—to propel himself into infinity. Of this aspiration, Spengler maintains, “the Gospels know nothing.”
.. In the minds and hands of Europeans, Christianity became a religion that affirmed the unceasing expansion of human freedom, power, and knowledge.
.. There is no biblical god for Faustian man, but there is high Christian culture, which is a tribute to his identity.
.. To a young man lacking a strong identity he says, “This heroic culture is your inheritance, and yours alone. You stand in a line of men who have attained the highest excellences and freely endured the hardest challenges.
.. Albert the Great, Cortés, Newton, Goethe, the Wright brothers all carry this daring spirit, and so do you.”
.. in his 1933 book Hour of Decision, he foresaw the rise of democratic “Caesars” and growing racial animosity. Who will give birth to the next great culture? Not Europeans
.. Spengler predicted the future would belong to the race that had preserved its “strength” in face of the rising “colored menace.”
- If Spengler is the alt-right’s cultural critic,
- Julius Evola is its political mystic.
- Umberto Eco mockingly called him “the magician,” and the
- future Pope Paul VI condemned his writings in a Vatican newspaper
- Evola is the most right-wing thinker possible in the modern world. There is nobody to his right, nor can there be. His influence on the alt-right is detectable in one of its most controversial features: its rejection of human equality.
- “We don’t belong to the liberal family,” writes popular blogger Hunter Wallace. “Nothing is less self-evident to us than the notion that all men are created equal.” Here is the movement’s clearest dispute with conventional conservatism
- The alt-right denies that constitutional democracy is worthy of principled veneration. For Evola, its popular acceptance is a sign we are living in a spiritual dark age.
The basic problem with modernity is “desacralization,” the collapse of spiritual meaning in daily life. Work, family, and citizenship are no longer saturated with spiritual importance, but are understood in functionally secular terms.
.. materialism “kills every possibility
.. Spengler’s fundamental flaw was that he “lacked any understanding of metaphysics and transcendence,” which led him to conclude that human cultures are irreducibly different.
.. Evola believed more or less the exact opposite, arguing that there are timeless and universal principles that have provided the foundation for every true civilization. He referred to these perennial truths as “Tradition,” and he traced the disorders of modernity to our loss of contact with it.
.. No, the world had been slouching into spiritual poverty ever since the eighth century b.c., when the world of Tradition began to disappear.
.. Revolt Against the Modern World, claimed that these primordial societies—whose existence can be accessed only by way of myth and legend, not critical scholarship—all operated on the same principles.
.. In a traditional culture, every aspect of human life, every social activity, role, and caste, was dedicated to the service of an otherworldly order; indeed, they were ritual pathways into it. “According to Tradition,” Evola imagines, “every authority is fraudulent, every law unjust and barbarous, every institution is vain and ephemeral unless . . . they are derived from above.”
.. His key claim is that traditional societies were hierarchically ordered under an absolute ruler, who embodied the sacral order itself.
.. Men Among the Ruins, he argued that political conservatism is intrinsically impossible in a democratic age. True political order can never come from below; it must always be imposed from above.
.. only a transformative leader could elevate humanity out of its degraded state. Such a leader could not appeal to the masses—this was the mistake of the vulgar fascisms of Mussolini and Hitler—but must inspire submission through lofty contempt for democratic norms and popular tastes.
“The presence of superior individuals bestows on a multitude . . . a meaning and a justification they previously lacked,” Evola wrote. “It is the inferior who needs the superior, and not the other way around.”
Evola was less clear about what this sacred authority looked like than what stood in the way of its realization.
.. The problem is that Catholicism forbids the sacred state. And a state without absolute spiritual unity is no state at all.
.. Benoist is the leading theorist of the European New Right, an intellectual movement that began in France in the late 1960s
.. however, no return is necessary if we simply move beyond Christianity altogether. Evola did not believe in a personal deity, but his criticisms of Christianity were political rather than theological. With Benoist, the alt-right becomes explicitly and confessionally anti-Christian.
.. took its inspiration from the failed “conservative revolution” of Weimar Germany.
Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Spengler were its chief figures
.. Most of its members, including Spengler, took sides against the Nazi regime, but they also sought a path for the West beyond the twin evils of American democracy and Soviet communism. Benoist comes from this anti-liberal tradition
.. Benoist is the leading theorist of the European New Right, an intellectual movement that began in France in the late 1960s
.. attempt to envision a post-Christian future for people of European descent.
.. his 1981 work On Being a Pagan
.. Paganism’s central claim is simple: that the world is holy and eternal. “Far from desacralizing the world,” Benoist tells us, paganism “sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word, since it regards the world as sacred.”
Paganism is also a humanism. It recognizes man, the highest expression of nature, as the sole measure of the divine.
.. God does not therefore create men; men make gods, which “exist” as ideal models that their creators strive to equal.
.. Benoist’s case against Christianity is that it forbids the expression of this “Faustian” vitality.
.. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient.
.. He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions. We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead.
.. Benoist’s theology is in the service of a political warning, and it is this, more than his Nietzschean posturing, that attracts the alt-right.
.. Christianity is unable to protect European peoples and their cultures.
.. Christianity is not our religion.
.. Benoist means that Christianity renders Western culture morally lethargic and culturally defenseless.
.. its universalism poisons our attachments to particular loyalties and ties.
.. “If all men are brothers,” Benoist claims, “then no one can truly be a brother.”
.. Politics depends on the recognition of both outsiders and enemies, yet the Christian Church sees all people as potential members, indeed potential saints.
.. Christianity imparted to our culture an ethics that has mutated into what the alt-right calls “pathological altruism.”
.. Its self-distrust, concern for victims, and fear of excluding outsiders—such values swindle Western peoples out of a preferential love for their own.
.. Christianity today is the enemy of the West and the race that created it
.. we ought to see ourselves through the eyes of our pagan critics
.. They distort many truths, through both malice and ignorance, and lead young men into espousing views and defending authors they scarcely understand.
.. “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity,” Richard Spencer complains.
.. invoking race as an emergency replacement for our fraying civic bonds.
.. identity politics on the left is a response to the same erosion of belonging.
.. we lack a compelling civic theology for the twenty-first century—a theology of the nation
.. In its absence the alt-right will continue to grow.
.. A nation will become an idol, however, if its cultural inheritance is not oriented toward, and inwardly transformed by, a divine inheritance.
.. “The inheritance we receive from Christ,” the late pope argued, “orients the patrimony of human native lands and cultures toward an eternal home land.”
.. It speaks of tradition, while transmitting no traditions. It guards a false patrimony, while destroying real ones
.. Race offers no inheritance, and its mere preservation reflects no human achievement.
.. Our stories, art, music, institutions, and religious traditions—unlike race—are transmitted only through special efforts of human intelligence and love. They are a bequest of the spirit, not blood.
.. The alt-right speaks a seductive language. Where liberalism offers security and comfort, the alt-right promises sacrifice and conflict.
.. . For Christians, the problem with Faustian man is not the vaunting heroism of his aims. It is the pitiable smallness of his goals.
We are not meant to merely aspire to the infinite. We are called to participate in it—to be, in a word, deified.
Faust could not overcome death. Through Christ, Christians already have.
the alt-right appealed to the young men — all of whom are white, conservative, and Evangelical — because it’s daring, and because the spirituality of megachurch Evangelicalism (in the kid’s view) is insipid. There was nothing much to inspire or to hold them. The alt-right fake “gospel” offered them an easy explanation of why they felt alienated and powerless, provided them with an enemy, and stoked their rage.
..It is anti-Christian, and it has strong arguments to make — not “strong” in the sense of “persuasive” (Rose is very much against the alt-right), but not arguments that can be easily dismissed with cries of “bigotbigotbigot!”
.. The alt-right is not stupid. It is deep. Its ideas are not ridiculous. They are serious. To appreciate this fact, one needs to inquire beyond its presence on social media, where its obnoxious use of insult, obscenity, and racism has earned it a reputation for moral idiocy. The reputation is deserved, but do not be deceived. Behind its online tantrums and personal attacks are arguments of genuine power and expanding appeal. As political scientist George Hawley conceded in a recent study, “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”
.. The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.”
..“Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writes Gregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”
.. Alt-right thinkers are overwhelmingly atheists, but their worldview is not rooted in the secular Enlightenment, nor is it irreligious. Far from it. Read deeply in their sources—and make no mistake, the alt-right has an intellectual tradition—and you will discover a movement that takes Christian thought and culture seriously. It is a conflicted tribute paid to their chief adversary. Against Christianity it makes two related charges.
Beginning with the claim that Europe effectively created Christianity—not the other way around—it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West. A major work of alt-right history opens with a widely echoed claim: “The introduction of Christianity has to count as the single greatest ideological catastrophe to ever strike Europe.”
.. Nietzsche got there first, of course — and he was not wrong about Christianity being a religion that exalts the meek.
.. Oswald Spengler’s Decline Of The West as a foundational text of the alt-right:
If Spengler’s theology is tendentious, his portrait of Western identity is deceptively powerful. To a young man lacking a strong identity he says, “This heroic culture is your inheritance, and yours alone. You stand in a line of men who have attained the highest excellences and freely endured the hardest challenges. Albert the Great, Cortés, Newton, Goethe, the Wright brothers all carry this daring spirit, and so do you.”
.. The juxtaposition was comic, just as it is comic to think about an obese, slovenly white guy vaping in front of his TV wearing a t-shirt sporting an image of, I dunno, Charlemagne, and a slogan claiming to be part of his lineage.
.. someone who is poor and at the bottom of the social hierarchy would find it consoling to identify with a hero — specifically, a racialized hero
.. There is no better introduction to alt-right theory than [Alain de Benoist’s] 1981 work On Being a Pagan. Its tone is serene, but its message is militant. Benoist argues that the West must choose between two warring visions of human life:
- biblical monotheism and
Benoist is a modern-day Celsus. Like his second-century predecessor, he writes to reawaken Europeans to their ancient faith. Paganism’s central claim is simple: that the world is holy and eternal. “Far from desacralizing the world,” Benoist tells us, paganism “sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word, since it regards the world as sacred.” Paganism is also a humanism. It recognizes man, the highest expression of nature, as the sole measure of the divine. God does not therefore create men; men make gods, which “exist” as ideal models that their creators strive to equal. “Man shares in the divine every time he surpasses himself,” Benoist writes, “every time he attains the boundaries of his best and strongest aspects.”
.. Benoist’s case against Christianity is that it forbids the expression of this “Faustian” vitality. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient.
.. He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions. We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead.
“Paganism does not reproach Christianity for defending the weak,” he explains. “It reproaches [Christianity] for exalting them in their weakness and viewing it as a sign of their election and their title to glory.”
.. Christianity is unable to protect European peoples and their cultures. Under Christianity, the West lives under a kind of double imprisonment. It exists under the power of a foreign religion and an alien deity. Christianity is not our religion. It thereby foments “nihilism.”
.. its universalism poisons our attachments to particular loyalties and ties. “If all men are brothers,” Benoist claims, “then no one can truly be a brother.”
.. Politics depends on the recognition of both outsiders and enemies, yet the Christian Church sees all people as potential members, indeed potential saints.
.. Christianity imparted to our culture an ethics that has mutated into what the alt-right calls “pathological altruism.” Its self-distrust, concern for victims, and fear of excluding outsiders—such values swindle Western peoples out of a preferential love for their own.
.. “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity,” Richard Spencer complains. “It’s not like other religions that come out of a folk spirit.
.. invoking race as an emergency replacement for our fraying civic bonds. It is not alone; identity politics on the left is a response to the same erosion of belonging.
.. The alt-right is anti-Christian. But you cannot effectively fight the alt-right with progressive pieties and outrage. Nor can you effectively resist it with conventional conservative pieties, ones that do not address the crises that the alt-right is responding to
.. Richard Spencer is evil, but he is not stupid.
.. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large.
.. Conventional conservatism is doing nothing, or nothing effective, to resist this tyranny. Do you know who does stand up to it, unapologetically? The alt-right. Andrew Sullivan’s piece is not about the alt-right, but I see both him and Matthew Rose sounding a very similar alarm. Pay attention; this is serious.
.. You too, conventional liberals: your own acceptance and promotion of illiberal, racialist ideology under the guise of “social justice” is calling up these demons on the Right. The best way you can fight the alt-right is to fight the SJWs, whose militancy, and whose effective militancy, can only make the alt-right stronger.
My friend Tyler Cowen argues that Jordan Peterson is the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now, and he has a point. Peterson, a University of Toronto psychologist, has found his real home on YouTube, where his videos have attracted something like 40 million views.
In his videos, he analyzes classic and biblical texts, he eviscerates identity politics and political correctness and, most important, he delivers stern fatherly lectures to young men on how to be honorable, upright and self-disciplined — how to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.
.. His worldview begins with the belief that life is essentially a series of ruthless dominance competitions. The strong get the spoils and the weak become meek, defeated, unknown and unloved.
For much of Western history, he argues, Christianity restrained the human tendency toward barbarism. But God died in the 19th century, and Christian dogma and discipline died with him. That gave us the age of ideology, the age of fascism and communism — and with it, Auschwitz, Dachau and the gulag.
.. Since most conflict is over values, we’ve decided to not have any values. We’ll celebrate relativism and tolerance.
.. Chaos, the eternal feminine, is also the crushing force of sexual selection. Women are choosy maters. … Most men do not meet female human standards.”
.. Life is suffering, Peterson reiterates. Don’t be fooled by the naïve optimism of progressive ideology. Life is about remorseless struggle and pain. Your instinct is to whine, to play the victim, to seek vengeance.
.. “The individual must conduct his or her life in a manner that requires the rejection of immediate gratification, of natural and perverse desires alike.”
.. Instead, choose discipline, courage and self-sacrifice.
.. Much of Peterson’s advice sounds to me like vague exhortatory banality. Like Hobbes and Nietzsche before him, he seems to imagine an overly brutalistic universe, nearly without benevolence, beauty, attachment and love. His recipe for self-improvement is solitary, nonrelational, unemotional. I’d say the lives of young men can be improved more through loving attachment than through Peterson’s joyless and graceless calls to self-sacrifice.