The problem with the European Left is that they care a little bit about just about everything, and yet there is nothing in particular about which they care deeply. This is very similar to what my old teacher Philip Rieff used to call “the Monroe Doctrine”—not the famous President James Monroe doctrine of warning Europeans to keep their hands off the Americas, but the little known Marilyn Monroe doctrine, named after the famous actress for having once said, “I believe in everything,” and then pausing for a moment before saucily adding, “a little bit.” The difference between European and colonial intellectuals is summed up in the difference between Sartre and Fanon, or between Foucault and Said. Sartre and Foucault cared widely about the entirety of the colonial and colonizing world, while Fanon and Said cared deeply about Algeria and Palestine, and from these two sites of contestation they extrapolated their politics and ethics of responsibility towards the rest of the world. Žižek is precisely in the same tradition and trajectory as those of Sartre and Foucault—caring widely but not deeply enough, for (and here is the philosophical foregrounding of their political proclivity for vacuous abstractions) they know widely and variedly but never deeply and particularly. What passes for the Left in the US is even worse. Since they have seen me (as one example among many) preoccupied with Iran, they think I have compromised my stand vis-à-vis American imperialism or its Israeli colonial outpost—for they too care in abstraction and act in generalities. I am preoccupied with Iran in 2009 precisely in the same way I have been with Iraq since 2003, and with Afghanistan since 2001 (when the best of these Americans thought Afghanistan was a “just war”), and precisely the same way I have been with Palestine all my adult life: from the site of specific crimes against humanity opens up your frame to see the rest of the world.
I just realized The Usual Suspects has basically the same plot as a short story in The Dragons of Krynn (a Dragonlance anthology published a year earlier), except that in The Usual Suspects Keyser Söze isn’t a dragon.
Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
Lawns are stupid. You have a tiny field that exists just so you can cut it and produce nothing.
(slavery content below)
Lawns are stupid! I don’t want to get too preachy (or, like, tell you things you have already heard from one hundred anarchists or alt gardeners otherwise), but lawns are absolute textbook bourgeois muscling. Probably they originate with gardens of British aristocracy and Louis XIV’s tapis vert, which is to say they were developed literally only as a way to extend the cultivated interior into the outdoors. Probably a lot of you know way more about the history of English gardens than I do, but their cultivated exteriors are part of this history, too—“produce nothing” can be argued to have been a status symbol, for sure. And grass has always been the actual most tedious thing to grow in any climate, so lawns require a lot of water dedicated just to keep them alive, and a lot of labor to tend. The first leftist who ever gave me this speech called it “conspicuous consumption of the aristocracy” which is fully fair.
I think most of the time critics of the Institution of the Lawn approach it as a 20th century construct, although everybody knows about Versailles. I think it is almost most important, though, to look at how the lawn came to America, namely, via Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, et al.: transplanting this performance of wealth (and, importantly!, literally transplanting difficult non-native plants into North America) “required” labor that sustained the slave trade. Lawns came to America as a display of slave ownership, and to create another “need” for it.
(I googled some stuff about Monticello, anticipating people being extra-demanding for sources here, lol, and I regret witnessing this shit.)
But, yes, the twentieth century. People who lecture at you about how lawns were invented by fertilizer companies are kind of not wrong! Or, at least, the lawn was fiercely marketed (mainly after WWII) via one million new consumer goods (pink flamingos, rototillers, and so on). What I am even more interested in, here, is how the suburban lawn developed through processes of zoning and neighborhood associations—ie, “your house must be oriented to the road as such, spaced x feet from the street” not distinct from the regulation of farming for food, or things like (surprise!) housing segregation as organized by community associations. (The tending of lawns and a “nice” yard was* actually a big part of how segregation happened, I have seen lots and lots of documents coming out of Flint in the 1950s that show white homeowners associations justifying redlining practices by claiming that Black people were incapable of tending to a house, and a yard.)
I think that’s all the big points!