Rick Roderick Lives

Wonders of the digital era — someone has digitized and uploaded a twenty-year-old interview with Rick Roderick, whom I first met when he was getting his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Texas. I was an undergrad in history, but conversations with him ultimately moved me to philosophy, not for the love of Plato or Kant, but for the love of changing the world. Rick died way too young, in 2002, of too much stress and cigarettes. He always knew he was going to die young. I’m glad the digital era lets his words and voice live on in this 30-minute piece. Even with production values that were low twenty years ago, the tape is mesmerizing. Rick was a true Texo-Marxist American intellecutal, as moved by Woody Guthrie, Faulkner, and Dostoevsky as he was by Adorno, Marcuse, and Guy Debord. Click here for the video.

(There are other tapes of his lectures on the web but none so far that I’ve found to be Mac friendly. And from what I gather, none are this candid.)

Irregular Americans

The Democratic Party stretches over but is divided by two different demographics, upscale liberals and the working class, notes David Brooks on todays’s New York Times‘s op ed page:

We’re used to the ideological divide between Red and Blue America. This year’s election has revealed a deep cultural gap within the Democratic Party, separating what Stuart Rothenberg calls the two Democratic parties.

In state after state (Wisconsin being the outlier), Barack Obama has won densely populated, well-educated areas. Hillary Clinton has won less-populated, less-educated areas. For example, Obama has won roughly 70 percent of the most-educated counties in the primary states. Clinton has won 90 percent of the least-educated counties. In state after state, Obama has won a few urban and inner-ring suburban counties. Clinton has won nearly everywhere else.

This social divide has overshadowed regional differences. Sixty-year-old, working-class Catholics vote the same, whether they live in Fresno, Scranton, Nashua or Orlando.

Likewise, younger upscale liberals across the country are voting for Obama. There are lots of factors involed: rural vs. urban, income, age. But the main factor seems to be education. The more educated, the more likely to lean toward Obama.

Oddly, among Democrats (and Republicans, for that matter), being favored by the educated is nothing to brag about it. To the contrary, Clinton brags that she represents regular Americans, meaning, I suppose, those with at most a year or two of college. According to this logic, I gather that every degree I’ve gotten (and I have racked up several) has made me less and less regular or less and less American. Is this the land of the free and the home of the quasi-literate?

Oops. Sorry. I’m being elitist.

Perhaps we’d be better off in the world if we started valuing intellect instead of trying to hide it.

Living Modern

I just completed a long project — chairing my neighborhood’s house and garden tour committee. My motivation was both civic and philosophical. That latter being my keen interest in mid-century modernism and how my neighborhood, Hollin HIlls, about eight miles south of D.C., is one of the exemplars of modernism. Of course the walls of windows spring leaks, as do the flat roofs. But oh my are these houses for living. To get a sense, see Modern Capital’s wrap-up of the tour. Also see Juliana Sohn’s photos or the story in last year’s March issue of Wallpaper Magazine.

eight points

As of 10 p.m. eastern time, April 22, in Pennsylvania Clinton has 54% of the democratic votes to Obama’s 46%. Not surprsing for her, but nothing like the double-digit spread she got in Ohio and Texas, and not enough to get a lead in the overall delegate total. Obama still has 135 more regular delegates nationally than Clinton.

New Date for Beyond the Academy Conference

New Date Beyond the Academy Conference: June 10-11, 2008

Call For Abstracts

The Beyond the Academy Conference is now scheduled for June 10-11, 2008.  It will take place on the Arlington Campus of George Mason University, beginning the evening of the 10th and continuing all day on th 11th.

Meeting just outside the nation’s capital in the midst of a presidential campaign year, public scholars from across the country will discuss the ways in which their work is more than “academic,” how it helps strengthen democratic institutions and public life and can bring about civic change.

To be considered for the program, send a 450-550 word abstract by April 28 to nmcafee@gmu.edu with the subject line “public scholars.” Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Reclaiming the civic mission of the university
* The incentive structure of university scholarship
* The self-understanding of scholars and their relationship to the public
* How to be the public’s allies in democratic work
* What kind of research does a democratic public need?
* Organic vs. traditional scholarship: How does Milton matter?
* Assessing the engaged campus movement
* Independent scholars, the academy, and the public
* the multiple ways communities, individuals and non-academic institutions contribute to public knowledge (e.g., film festivals, literary festivals, literacy initiatives)
* Advocacy versus Engagement
* Book sessions

For more information go to http://beyondtheacademy.wordpress.com/

Please spread the word to all your networks!