The Politicized Life

Decline

Humans fired a probe from Earth onto a comet hurtling through space at unimaginable speed. Human beings did this:
The landing, first envisaged more than 20 years ago, marks the crowning moment of Rosetta’s decadelong cruise through the solar system to get up close and personal with a comet. During its 4 billion mile journey on a track to meet the comet, Rosetta bounced around the inner solar system like a cosmic billiard ball, circling the sun almost four times. ... Philae appears to have settled on its three legs in the center of the target zone, a relatively flat elliptical landing area about 550 yards in diameter, away from deep crevices, large boulders and sharp peaks.
Human beings did this! Pretty impressive! And how did humanity respond to this remarkable triumph of human engineering, of unprecedented exploration, of new greatness?

On Forbearance: or, Why I Pity Jonathan Chait

In lieu of a movie review this week, we've published my chapter from The Seven Deadly Virtues. (You can buy it here!) If you're a reader of this here blog, it may seem a bit familiar to you. Consider it a thesis statement on "The Politicized Life." Consider it also a rebuttal to Jonathan Chait's sad statement of intolerance. In a much-discussed essay, Jonathan Chait celebrated the politicized life, implicitly called for political segregation, and announced that he would be saddened if his daughter came home with a Republican soulmate:

The Politicized Life, Ebola Edition

Pop quiz, hotshot: You're dying of ebola and have the choice between bleeding out in the street unloved by anyone or being cared for by a Christian missionary. What do you do? What do you do? If you're Slate's Brian Palmer, that's apparently a tougher question than you might think. Here's Palmer:

Boycott ALL the Things!

One of the mouth-breathing conspiracy theorists at Vice thinks you should boycott the NFL because a couple of NFL employees have had trouble with the law and some of the folks who are paid a great deal of money to play a game that they love of their own free will wind up with brain damage. The mouthbreather raises a good point! We should hold all of our entertainments to these standards! Indeed, we should boycott all the things.

Andrew W.K.: ‘Party, Don’t Politicize!’

Andrew W.K., America’s premier partier, is no more a fan of the politicized life than yours truly. In his advice column for the Village Voice, W.K. smacks down a guy who wrote in to complain about his dad, a “65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics.” Here’s W.K.:

The Totalitarian Impulse and Art

Jed Perl has an important essay over at the New Republic on the incessant politicization of the arts by the left. As someone who has made a hobby of taking on the politicized life, you can imagine how pleased I was to read it. Perl's thrust is this: art is separate from the artist, and vice versa. Which is to say, you can disagree with a person's politics and still approve of—or learn something important about humanity from—their art. Here's a taste:

Lynn Stuart Parramore: The Saddest Person in America?

Imagine that your life is so hollow and devoid of meaning, that you, upon hearing a song played in a grocery store, feel compelled to go home, print out that song’s lyrics, and present them to a store employee demanding that, in the future, they refrain from playing that song so as to refrain from offending your exceedingly delicate sensibilities.

When Is the Politicized Life Okay?

I participated in a Bloggingheads earlier this week with Kevin Glass; our topic of discussion was something I've been scribbling about for the last 18 months or so. If you watch, you'll note that there's a picture of one Adam Kredo over my left shoulder informing everyone that my office is a "den of borderline anti-Semitism." I want to drill down a bit deeper into a point Kevin and I touched on briefly near the end, about when it's "okay"* to live the politicized life. When is an opinion so outré that we should shun the opinion holder? When should we seek to impoverish those with whom we disagree?