07 September 2007

Photo Update,Two Deals, Weird Historian

Some of you may have doubted the pure deliciousness of the Hot Pot, mentioned in the previous post. Seeing is believing, they tell me.

This anthropologist says, "It's POT-LICKING good!"

The same anthropologist wondered why there're so few goth kids in Moscow since the environment seems just right for them. Well, our Metro ride home from mediocre Moscow Mexican fare gave evidence of at least one funny ring-wearing Trent Reznor wanna-be sharing a plastic bottle of beer with a friend.

And, to continue my "three things" theme:

1. Andre Banks on Oprah and Obama.

2. Amitava Kumar re-posts an important letter on the Indo-US "Deal."

3. Vaughn Davis Bornet waxes weird on the history of racism at HNN.


W. Shedd said...

I think Russians are generally more interested in looking sort of Euro-cultured. That seems to curtail any goth or punk sensibilities. I know Katja was "punk" for a while in high school and she claims that as soon as such kids get a little bit of $$ they dress up, Euro-Russki fashion.

Anonymous said...

Somebody says Bornet "waxes weird" in the September 3 HNN (article now in its Archives, readily available).

I am the author and astonished. What could possibly be "weird" about recalling several dozen episodes of a racial nature that touched me during my 90 year lifetime? That's what my article IS. It's not weird to remember, is it? Just wondering....

I would be interested in the author's rationale. I was "a doctoral candidate" long ago (1948 to 1951), and wish I had the internet then to air my views.

Vaughn Davis Bornet Ashland, OR

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

Dr. Bornet,

Well, the «three things» feature of my blog is typically not meant to be elaborated upon. Usually, I just find something interesting, important or odd and provide a link to it such that readers may investigate for themselves. But since I editorialized a bit, let me clear up what I found «weird» about your race memoir.

First, I found the premise of criticizing the vast and diverse literature on the history of race and racism that has been produced in the past half-century in the form of a few brief personal glimpses an unsound approach, especially from a trained historian. The refusal to interact with this work on a theoretical level doesn't allow the development of a critique, yet you still manage to generalize that the entire literature is «gloomy» and in need of the corrective vision provided by a handful of anecdotes.

The anecdotes themselves are complicated by the construction of yourself as a naive white man consistently surprised by the moral hypocrisies of racism in America, and then astonished by the failure to recognize the progress that has been made... This tack allows for an alluring narration, but leaves you as a somewhat unreliable narrator to any critical reader.

These criticisms aside, I did find your piece worth reading—hence I linked to it—but perhaps I read your race memoir a little differently than the self-interpretation you offered in the introduction and conclusion—which I found to be «waxing weird».

Perhaps particularly «weird» to me was the appearance of this race memoir on HNN as a historical argument or historiographical intervention. It seemed, to me, evidence of the continued reluctance among some historians to deal seriously with the complex developments in the history and theory of race and racism and the tendency replace such an engagement with personal anecdotes and reflections.

But perhaps my instincts were off on detecting weirdness in the piece and its forum of publication. Any other readers want to chime in?

McFry said...

i was once a part of a group of people trying to form an organized "Collective" dedicated to all sorts of causes and issues that fall under the general milieu of anti-authoritarian leftism. The subject of racism was a big part of those issues and everyone seemed to feel strongly that it was important to discuss, examine, and 'deconstruct' [as was the lingo at the time - early 1990s] the issue.
although the group was predominantly liberal-to-radical white people, there was actually some progress being made towards a more diverse, multi-racial make-up. i recall some black and middle eastern people being involved. & i distinctly remember one of the early meetings when the facilitator did a sort of 'warming-up and getting-to-know-one-another' exercise and asked everyone to go around a share their first memory of racism. a number of the white folks went around telling anecdotes from when they were of ages~perhaps 4 to 8? i don't remember them specifically.
and then, it got to a black guy who was there, and i remember it so well. he sort of stammered incredulously and managed to get out something like, "uuuuh...i mean, this is america" and then there was 'the uncomfortable moment', and what i thought was such a neat idea for a go-around question didn't seem quite so keen.

the reason i'm re-telling this incident here is that i totally thought of this experience when i read Dr. Bornet's article and pondered as to what BusterPHD could've meant about 'waxing weird'.

it's certainly not weird to remember, and i know personally that it can be very illuminating and cathartic. but i think the weirdness might come from something else which Buster explains better than i.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Buster: You may be a bit surprised to know that you have the author here....

Want to enlarge on your critique of my little reminiscence on Racism in America since my birth in 1917?

I'll try to reply....

Vaughn Davis Bornet, Ph.D. Ashland, Oregon

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

Dr. Bornet,

I can't tell from your response whether you've read my comment above on your memoir. I can't think of anything else I would like to say about the piece before a reply from you on that. And, frankly speaking, I am not sure that we need to delve too deep into my somewhat flip introduction to a link on a blog.


Anonymous said...

What is this "waxes weird" business?

What is it that you question, anyway?

I believe in the total accuracy of what I wrote. As for its thrust, I am sure of that, too.

Vaughn Davis Bornet

Anonymous said...

The is BORNET again:

I believe in Autobiography. There was a big conference at Hunter College some years ago on Autobiography, with many historians and many papers delivered. It was about the time I wrote my nearly 400 page An Independent Scholar in 20th Century America. Somehow, one tends to think as he gets older that a life, famous or obscure, should have meaning for others.

The is little on Race in my Autobiography, much on corporate life and vicissitudes and tough luck and sacrifice--and final accomplishment.

The lives of individuals are what makes history. All know that. The sponsor of this website is making history and could even at this early point be a chapter in a book on (what?) expatriots or visiting students abroad (a la Mark Twain?).

My own anecdotes have to be by necessity modest in importance, even though I went into Who's Who in America in 1956 and Who's Who in the World last year. And buried in the outlines in such places a Contemporary Authors are entries that are almost the opposite of what they seem. Thus the apparent triumph of being in Naval Inteligence for a year or so is minimized if one learns that I was evicted for smart-assing an ensign in the men's room (the head). And got commissioned that very month by my new command.

Have to talk with my daughter. Do you have publications I can read? I just finished an informal history of the university where I was for 17 calendar years. So?

Vaughn Davis Bornet in Oregon

incunabular said...

The goths are out there but you have to know where to look. For the most part hey are more synth/electro-inclined. They carry on the torch of the original депешисты. But there are some more rock-goths including a mostly younger crowd that adores HIM and Rammstein. I think gothic culture as a whole is on a decline, though. Attendance is down at the big European music festivals to include WGT and Mera Luna. Somehow this emo movement is supposed to be the new goth. I'm not buying it.