Tag Archives: American academia

RIP Noel ‘abolish whiteness’ Ignatiev (1940 – 2019)

Noel Ignatiev was an American author and historian known for his radical views on whiteness.

He belongs to a category of extreme left-wing American professors to which also belongs Ward Churchill (“On the Justice of Roosting Chickens“).

These radicals came to my attention when I wrote a review of Whiteshift (2018) by Eric Kaufmann.

Googling for Noel Ignatiev does not bring up pages of left-wing political propaganda but pages of right-wing political propaganda. Of right wing white supremacists upset by what Ignatiev is saying.

Below is a transcript of a video of which you’ll find several copies on YouTube. It is a spliced video and I do not know where it was recorded nor who interviewed Ignatiev.

“My concern is doing away whiteness. Whiteness is a form of racial oppression, sure. The suggestion is that it is somehow possible to separate whiteness from oppression and it is not. There can be no white race without the phenomenon of white supremacy. If you abolish slavery you abolish slave holders. In the same way, if you abolish racial oppression you do away with whiteness, treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” Interviewer: “Your views are fairly well received in academia” … “Yes the they are legitimate, not to say that everyone agrees but sure … I could not point to any examples where it has provoked political censorship … whiteness is an identity that arises entirely out of oppression … whiteness is not a culture … it’s not a religion, it’s not a language, it’s simply an oppressive social category …. Blackness is an identity that can be plausibly argued, black studies is a study of a people that has formed itself in resistance to its oppression. The task is to bring this minority together in such a way that it makes it impossible for the legacy of whiteness to continue to reproduce itself.”

I have not read books by Ignatiev but I do wonder how he would have gone about doing away with whiteness.

RIP Harold ‘western canon’ Bloom (1930 – 2019)

Harold Bloom was an American literary critic.

Bloom interviewed by Charlie Rose on ‘The Western Canon’

He is perhaps best known for his book The Western Canon, to its supporters a work defending art for art’s sake, the absoluteness of aesthetic value and literary genius; to its detractors a defense of elitism and dead white males. This makes Bloom is a cultural critic in the tradition of Matthew Arnold who stated that “[culture is] the best that has been said and thought in the world” (Culture and Anarchy, 1869).

I discovered Bloom in the early 2000s in a period I was researching the nobrow concept.

His death has been a good occasion to dig into the university library and bring home The Western Canon and The Anxiety of Influence.

That last book has two remarkable poetic texts, “It Was a Great Marvel That He Was in the Father without Knowing Him” and “Reflections upon the Path“. That second page-length text I have been unable to identify.

The bulk of today’s research went to The Western Canon, it is arguably Bloom’s best-known work and it has had relevance outside of the lit crit world.

The notion of a canon has also recently shown itself the object of a political debate in Flanders, the region I live and where the right (NVA) has managed to include it into to the policy of the Jambon Government The opposition (the left) was against it. The culture war fought in our region is one akin to the clash of civilizations of Huntington, more specifically the west and how it tries to come to to terms with the renewed religiosity in the form of Islam.

That Bloom’s canonization of 26 authors was an apolitical process can be read on page 4:

“I am not concerned with . . . the current debate between the right-wing defenders of the Canon, who wish to preserve it for its supposed (and nonexistent) moral values, and the academic-journalistic network I have dubbed the School of Resentment, who wish to overthrow the Canon in order to advance their supposed (and nonexistent) programs for social change.”

If you’re not familiar with Bloom and what to catch up quickly, you may want to check the interviews Bloom gave to Charlie Rose.

Here [above] is one in which he makes a couple of amusing and astute observations on the western canon and its detractors:

“If multiculturalism meant Cervantes, then who could protest? [but] they are asking us to read extremely inadequate Chicano writers.”

and

“That ridiculous metaphor we now call ‘empowerment‘, which is cheerleading as far as I can tell.”

As can be deduced from these quotes, Bloom considered political correctness an enemy of the literary criticism trade.