Saturday, May 13, 2017

Word of the Day: “Appropriation”

The latest catchphrase from the “trigger-warnings” crowd  is:  “cultural appropriation.”   Snowflakes are melting in the heat of the phrase.
The current epicenter of this kerfuffle is Canada.  Since Canada doesn't get to be the epicenter of all that much, we'll put the maple-leaf links front & center:

Bad, bad  Bard !

Take an example: Logically, if an author is male, there could be no female characters in his book.  He couldn't possibly present their inner truth -- and if he did, it would be even worse:  appropriation.
Quickly running the classics through the mind, the only novel that passes the test is Moby Dick.  All others, by male authors, must be burned.

It's okay -- a male whale

For more about our lovable subaqueous sea-chum, try these

[Update] This just in:  PETA has demanded the censorship of Moby Dick.
HarperCollins is preparing a new P.C. edition, minus the whale.

(/ satire.  Not worth analyzing.  We have not to get down in the sandbox with the bisounours, to wrangle over such notions.  As Hegel (or someone) once wittily put it:  “When you hear the terms ‘safe space’ or ‘appropriation’ -- entsichern Sie ihren Glock.”)


A generation ago, a somewhat related notion was that of coöptation.   The Establishment (that was the “They”, back Then) would dangle a carrot; and if you took it, you’d been co-opted.


Although lists of huffy demands by aggrieved poetical Eskimos  have little resonance outside a certain milieu, there is a deeper and much more general issue hiding behind it, one discussed  over the decades  under such rubrics as “The Uses of the Past”.
An especially subtle one is offered by the historian Tony Judt, in his wide-ranging pre-post-mortem exposition Thinking the Twentieth Century.   Here he refers to the “misappropriation” of the Holocaust narrative, by a motley assortment of factions.

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