Repost-William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

Full post here.

Stern points out how important the Catholic Church, and one man in particular, were in transforming Irish immigrants from a hated, poor, dislocated immigrant class into something more in mid nineteenth-century America:

‘A hundred years ago and more, Manhattan’s tens of thousands of Irish seemed a lost community, mired in poverty and ignorance, destroying themselves through drink, idleness, violence, criminality, and illegitimacy.’

The Irish Catholic Church had brought a lot of its troubles with it, but opportunity was here, and the religion needed to change (the metaphysical debates may last for centuries but religion is woven into the culture, responding to the culture, of its time, usually only as good as its people and the decisions they make):

Hughes was outraged. He didn’t want Catholics to be second-class citizens in America as they had been in Ireland, and he thought he had a duty not to repeat the mistakes of the clergy in Ireland, who in his view had been remiss in not speaking out more forcefully against English oppression.’

This required a moral and psychological transformation that perhaps only religion could provide.  Education and job opportunities were key:

‘Faced with perhaps as many as 60,000 Irish children wandering in packs around New York City—not attending school, not working, not under any adult supervision—Hughes encouraged the formation of the Society for the Protection of Destitute Catholic Children, known as the Catholic Protectory, which was in a sense the forerunner of Boys Town.’

Eventually, criminals became policeman, trades were learned, politics was infiltrated and controlled through the big city machines.

***Many of the functions that charities, churches, and religious organizations perform will likely try and be co-opted by the government (the De Blasio coalitions no doubt see many things this way).  Interestingly, old-school Democrat, poor Brooklyn kid, and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan made some interesting arguments about the dangers of such Statism.

Related On This Site:  But progressive policies do address needs, and reward people, just at great cost including potential threats to individual liberties, jobs, political stability and individual and fiscal responsibility, obviously.  Walter Russell Mead says the Great Society is over:  A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”Repost-Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’ …Theodore Dalrymple In The City Journal: Atheism’s Problems..more progressive silliness.Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Heather MacDonald At The City Journal on ‘De Blasio’s Policing Dilemma:’

Full piece here:’

Police tactics have become a hot-button issue across the country, touching on issues of overreach and abuse of State power against individuals for many libertarians, and often abuse of power against individuals as members of minorities and victim-classes for many progressives. Regardless of the sad facts of the Eric Garner case, which has been ruled a homicide, some of the pressure is going to come against current NYPD Commisioner William Bratton’s Broken Windows policing strategy which MacDonald has already written about.

From her current piece:

‘The anti-cop forces have shifted the focus of attention from the tactics used to subdue Garner after he resisted arrest—which is where attention should stay—to the very enforcement of misdemeanor laws themselves, such as the one against illegal cigarette sales. The New York Times’s lead editorial on Saturday, “Broken Windows, Broken Lives,” exemplifies this opportunistic turn against quality-of-life enforcement: “How terrible it would be if Eric Garner died for a theory, for the idea that aggressive police enforcement against minor offenders . . . is the way to a safer, more orderly city.”

Progressive sentiment and the need to keep the crime-rate low may pull de Blasio in competing directions, MacDonald reasons. I’m guessing that De Blasio can’t be seen as too far ahead of his activist and union coalitions, nor the kinds of sentiment expressed at the Times.

Some were speculating that the Big Apple is headed back to 70′s-style crime rates, fear and seediness. Myron Magnet, at the City Journal, recalls what it was like for him during those days, and hopes De Blasio stays strong on crime so that NYC can keep heading in the right direction.

From this NY Times previous piece on James Q Wilson’s theory:

‘But he was best known for his research on the behavior of police officers and lawbreakers. Probably his most influential theory holds that when the police emphasize the maintenance of order rather than the piecemeal pursuit of rapists, murderers and carjackers, concentrating on less threatening though often illegal disturbances in the fabric of urban life like street-corner drug-dealing, graffiti and subway turnstile-jumping, the rate of more serious crime goes down.’

MacDonald is still focusing on the victims of crime.

.Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’ Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-LawSo, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’

Full piece here.

Banksy’s website here.

Here’s what much of that ‘meta’ commentary on commerce and transgressive street-art might get you.  Local thugs charging those Banksy groupies to see his art.  Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?:

——————–

Dalrymple:

‘The enormous interest his work arouses, disproportionate to its artistic merit, shows not that there is fashion in art, but that an adolescent sensibility is firmly entrenched in our culture.  The New York Times reports that a lawyer, Ilyssa Fuchs, rushed from her desk the moment she heard about Banksy’s latest work and ran more than half a mile to see it.  Would she have done so if a delicate fresco by Peiro della Francesca had been discovered in Grand Central Terminal?  In the modern world, art and celebrity are one.  And we are all Peter Pan now:  We don’t want to grow up.’

Well, I certainly hadn’t noticed an adolescent sensibility at the NY Times.  Certainly not.

An image of one of those Peiro della Francesca frescoes here.

Perhaps it’s worthwhile to view Banksy as a kind of poor man’s Damien Hirst:   A ‘working-class’ British guy with some native talent but not too much in the way of formal training nor arguably lasting artistic achievement (perhaps in the ‘graffiti’ world).  Instead of working as a gallery, mixed-media modern installation artist like Hirst, he’s followed the street-graffiti path leaving ‘transgressive’ messages on politics and ethics scrawled across the cityscape in anonymity.  For all his irony, and the fact that he’s likely in on the joke, Banksy still finds himself subject to the larger forces at work where art, money, & fame are meeting.

As a girl in Seattle here mentioned to me at a party:  ‘His work is a meta-commentary on art, commerce, greed, creativity and all that.  His becoming a commodity is the ultimate irony.’

Deep, man, deep.

Yet, as to Dalrymple’s point, I could imagine an adult sneaking off to check out a Michaelangelo fresco with childlike anticipation, and maybe even a little childish or adolescent delight at being the first to arrive.  Of course, I think that fresco tends to engender a much deeper and complex response than that of Banksy’s work and ‘social commentary’, but the desire for beauty, hope, and brief bursts of transcendence aren’t going anywhere.   This reminds me of Richard Wilbur’s poem:  ‘First Snow In Alsace.‘  which evokes the grim realities of war and suffering covered up by a beautiful snowfall.

Here are the last stanzas and line:

…You think: beyond the town a mile
Or two, this snowfall fills the eyes
Of soldiers dead a little while.

Persons and persons in disguise,
Walking the new air white and fine,
Trade glances quick with shared surprise.

At children’s windows, heaped, benign,
As always, winter shines the most,
And frost makes marvelous designs.

The night guard coming from his post,
Ten first-snows back in thought, walks slow
And warms him with a boyish boast:

He was the first to see the snow.

The worst war can bring is juxtaposed against our simple childlike wonder (and possibly childish) delight at that which is beautiful and mysterious in nature.  Of course, such desires can help cause the destruction of war, too, but…hey.   People love to be the first and the coolest.  As Dalrymple argues above, these childish impulses are the ones that should not be so easily encouraged nor celebrated, especially by Banksy nor his reviewers at the NY Times.  I pretty much agree.

———————

Performance artist Marina Ambramovic and Jay-Z are together at last during a 6-hour lip sync performance-art pieceto promote Mr Z’s new album.

Still, it’s probably more engaging than Tilda Swinton in a box.

Maybe Jeff Koons got there first, where marketing, money, and branding met pop art:  A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

***I’d currently argue that in a successful commercial culture such as ours, with such strong tensions between the individual artist and the demos, and such high and low-art available, and where we’re awash in pop culture, music & entertainment, it’s natural to have strong debate going as to what’s ‘cool’ and what’s good art.  Clearly, religion and religious duties come into constant tension with both commerce and art.  Clearly, that commercial culture has formed a celebrity culture which is also affecting our politics.  Clearly, whether or not you’re an art snob, an aesthete, or a secularly or religiously moral person, you can easily see how that culture produces a lot of crap, and can arouse the base desires in people which can be as harmless as a crush, sexual longing, a desire for romantic love and/or the cult-like worship.

Here’s Robert Hughes being especially critical of an Andy Warhol modern art collector, and where money, marketing, art and fame meet:

———————

Addition:  I’ve gotten a few emails suggesting this is too negative.  Bah.  I like some of Banksy’s work for it’s cleverness and wit, and his experience in doing what he does.  Beyond that, not too much and there’s way too much hype.

Another Addition:

Related On This Site:  Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza

They designed a city in the heart of Brazil that really doesn’t work for people: Brasilia: A Planned City

No thanks to living in planned communities upon someone else’s overall vision.: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Repost-Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..where is modernism headed? Via Youtube: Justin, The Horse That Could Paint

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘What The New Atheists Don’t See’

Full piece here.

Dalrymple:

‘The search for the pure guiding light of reason, uncontaminated by human passion or metaphysical principles that go beyond all possible evidence, continues, however; and recently, an epidemic rash of books has declared success, at least if success consists of having slain the inveterate enemy of reason, namely religion. The philosophers Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, and Sam Harris, biologist Richard Dawkins, and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens have all written books roundly condemning religion and its works. Evidently, there is a tide in the affairs, if not of men, at least of authors.’

Still a popular topic.

Jerry Pournelle’s chart with statism is on the -x-axis, and rationalism on the -y-.  Reason enthroned hasn’t exactly worked out so well.

Recently, British thinker Alain De Botton floated the idea of building an ‘atheist temple’ in the heart of London.  He recommends combing through religious practices for useful organizing principles in response to the New Atheists.  You can read more about it here, which includes a radio interview/podcast.

A postmodernist temple without the materialist core?  The Rothko chapel, in Houston, Texas.

Related On This Site:  From The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy Entry On Eliminative Materialism

From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘Jonathan Haidt’s Darwinian Conservatism’…Evolutionary psychology and moral thinking: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Does evo psy have aspirations in creating a sort of secular morality…or non-religious moral and philosophical structure that leads to materialism?  Steven Pinker has adopted a rather libertarian set of statistics on lower levels of violence  Steven Pinker From The New Republic: The Stupidity Of DignitySimon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department

Hitchens kept looking at the world through the materialist lens of history, and joined the New Atheists: Via Youtube: Christopher Hitchens On Faith And Virtue…A former Marxist materialist and still quite anti-religious:  Via Youtube: “UC Television-Conversations With History: Christopher Hitchens”

David Sloan Wilson At The Huffington Post: Atheism As a Stealth Religion…Don’t immanentize the eschaton!: From The NY Times: ‘Atheists Sue to Block Display of Cross-Shaped Beam in 9/11 Museum’

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’

From The City Journal: ‘Understanding The Breivik Verdict’

Full piece here.

Interesting piece:

‘This political ideology is obviously not the personal invention of a single, crazy individual. It has deep roots in the extreme European Right that produced Nazism, fascism, and radical conservatism. It is the tradition of Counter-Enlightenment, which arose against nascent liberal democracy and rule of law in the eighteenth century and has held its place on the European Right ever since. Breivik’s dream is totalitarian: democracy should be severely restrained, political rights should be the privilege of certain citizens over others, theology should regain a central role in politics, and modernity itself should be rolled back.’

The pendulum is still swinging, apparently.  Hopefully we don’t back ourselves into such a situation. R.I.P to the victims.

Related On This Site:  Ross Douthat At The NY Times: “A Right-Wing Monster”

Is a more developed right what Europe needs?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism…From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration Dynamic

From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”…A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

How do you reasonably deal with relativism anyways?: From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

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Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

Full piece here.

In L.A.:

‘…beginning in April, the Geffen—a satellite of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art—will host what MOCA proudly bills as America’s first major museum survey of “street art,” a euphemism for graffiti.’

She takes a moralistic tone, but makes a decent point:

‘A neighborhood that has succumbed to graffiti telegraphs to the world that social and parental control there has broken down.’

So is it worthy of institutionalization?  How does one weigh the aesthetic value of graffiti against the criminality that often goes with it…and the hypocrisy of those who don’t have to live around graffiti and the gang activity who are legitimizing it? MacDonald has been consistently focusing on the harm done by crime, and to the victims of criminals against those (usually on the Left) who wish to view criminals as victims themselves…within a larger ideological framework…with consequences for the rest of us.

Also On This Site: People are using art for political, religious, commercial and ideological reasons as always…right or left…believer or non-believer…Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And AestheticsFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit

Trading Robert Moses for Brailia…an authoritarian streak?:  Brasilia: A Planned CityAnd AestheticsRoger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…

 

From The City Journal Via Arts & Letters Daily: ‘Who Needs Mathematicians For Math, Anyway?’

Full article here.

In the City Journal,  you know some of what to expect:  we’ve moved away from our best moral and intellectual traditions in favor of excessive egalitarianism.   Some of the culprits are on the political left and they need to be stopped.

“Some influential educators sought to dismiss the traditional curriculum altogether, viewing it as a white, Christian, heterosexual-male product that unjustly valorized rational, abstract, and categorical thinking over the associative, experience-based, and emotion-laden thinking supposedly more congenial to females and certain minorities.”

This, of course, has some truth to it.  There are a large mass of educrats and vague-thinking do-gooders who can end up seeking a set of political, social and educational goals instead of well…math:

“The math educators’ rising influence over the last few decades is reflected in the content of, or response to, two influential national reports.”

You’ll have to click on the link for those reports.

I would also argue that there seem to be a set of social, cultural and economic reasons that at least India and China (and at least right now) have an advantage. These reasons tie learning mathematics (as the basis for the sciences at least) with a good job and social respect…money…family and national pride…a way out of poverty…a way to get married…etc.

Some will doomsay, but these are very real and difficult problems.

Also On This Site: A Shortage Of Skilled American Workers At Microsoft?

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