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May 12, 2012 2:57 PM Recommended reading

By Kathleen Geier

Here are some of the more interesting articles I’ve come across on the intertubes lately:

— Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell writes about the virtues, and also the limits, of one of my favorite magazines, Tom Frank’s splendid Baffler, which, following a 2-year absence, has made a most welcome return.

— The case for the pervasively corrosive effects of inequality becomes more damning every day. Paul Krugman reports on new research that suggest that inequality and lack of economic mobility are associated with high rates of teen pregnancy. (Speaking of Krugman, if for some reason you crave yet more evidence of what gigantic horse’s asses conservatives can be, check out this recent example of Krugman Derangement Syndrome).

— The wonderful Rebecca Traister argues that the war on women has helped feminists rediscover our joy.

— In the New York Review of Books, Garry Wills reviews the latest volume of Robert Caro’s monumental LBJ bio, focusing on the epic, astonishingly vitriolic political feud between LBJ and RFK. Sample quote: “I doubt that Caro, when he began his huge project, thought he would end up composing a moral disquisition on the nature of hatred. But that is what, in effect, he has given us. Hate breeds hate in an endless spiral.”

— Also in the current NYRB, Darryl Pinckney has written an extraordinary essay about, among other things, Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama, black identity, and the war between “the black revolutionary imperative” and “the materialism of American society.” It’s a must-read.

— And finally, I’m a bit late in getting to this, but I can’t recommend this recent, and remarkable, London Review of Books essay about Marilyn Monroe by British academic Jacqueline Rose highly enough. Even if you think you’ve been Marilyn’d to death and that there’s nothing more about the woman that could possibly interest you, trust me, Rose will surprise you. Most crucially, Rose reclaims Marilyn as an icon of American liberalism, and reveals Monroe as political activist, as a serious reader, as a tireless seeker and self-analyst: “To read Monroe’s fragments, letters, journals and poems is to realise that, however tormented, she had another life. It is to be struck by the unrelenting mental energy with which she confronted herself.” Once again it is deeply poignant to be reminded that Monroe did not live to see the rise of the second wave of the women’s movement. It’s fascinating to contemplate how she would have reacted to that world historic development.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

Comments

  • hornblower on May 12, 2012 5:29 PM:

    Kathleen, black intellectuals are as far away from the average black family as you are. Blacks parents want the same for their kids as everyone else. They don't care about tenured professors and the need to publish articles or books explaining the black experience to white people. My god, the President of the US is a black man and his values are the same as most Americans. There are stupid people who cannot deal with changes in our society. There are politicians who put their jobs ahead of any kind of statesmanship. Shame on them. But separating Americans by race is outdated. American values are american values and they are color blind.

  • jjm on May 12, 2012 5:52 PM:

    Re Jacqueline Rose on Marilyn Monroe: "Most crucially, Rose reclaims Marilyn as an icon of American liberalism, and reveals Monroe as political activist, as a serious reader, as a tireless seeker and self-analyst: “To read Monroe’s fragments, letters, journals and poems is to realise that, however tormented, she had another life. It is to be struck by the unrelenting mental energy with which she confronted herself.”

    Back in 1987 Dean MacCannell published his essay remarking on these things, especially detailing Marilyn's political acumen, in his article “Marilyn Monroe Was Not a Man,” Diacritics (summer), 114-127.

    MacCannell gave it as his lecture for being the Senior Fellow for the Society for the Humanities at Cornell, and as I recall, Jacqueline Rose, whose work I admire, was at Cornell that year, though I don't know for sure if she attended the lecture... It's very well worth reading.

  • DKDC on May 13, 2012 9:43 AM:

  • Marnie on May 13, 2012 5:00 PM:

    Monroe may also be among the best known survivors of child rape and could easily be an icon of how much damage that victimization of childhood can be even to driving the innocent to the point of self destruction.

    But she could also be an icon for how very important it is for childhood rape victims to come out of the closet so to have a better opportunity of casting out that demon and improving their healing processes, knowing that they are not alone, not at fault and that here can be a better tomorrow.