Read a review of this book and decided to check it out for myself. Overall, it is a fascinating read about the rise of inconspicuous consumption among the so-called aspirational class. There is a lot of interesting information in the book, and it reflects on the social consequences of growing inequality in the United States and how it is becoming more and more difficult to reverse its long term effects. Forget about the Rolex and the Benz, health, wellness, education, and security in old age are the new status markers.
This is the castle where the Sommerakademie is hosted as seen from the cornfields below.
So I've made it through my first week of volunteer teaching at the Sommerakademie Neubeuern, and there's been less free time than I imagined. A lot of prep work goes into teaching for three hours a day (30 hours in 2 weeks!), but the scenery here makes the whole endeavor so much easier. And I can occasionally get to the top of a mountain for a glass of wine.
I am thrilled that Yanis Varoufakis agreed to read and blurb my forthcoming book. I am a huge fan of his work and his activism in Diem25; it is a real honor to have him endorse Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence.
I have arrived in Neubeuern in the foothills of the Alps near the Austrian-German border. I have volunteered to teach a two-week seminar for the Studienstiftung on the cultures and societies of Eastern Europe. This is the castle where the class will be held starting Monday morning.
I'm in Trier where the whole city is trying to cash in on the 200th birthday of Karl Marx (born here in 1818). Near the Karl Marx Haus the town has changed the Ampelmänchen to be little Marxes and there are scattered images of him everywhere. The tourist shops are filled with Marx-themed souvenirs, and even the local retailers are using his face to lure would-be shoppers into their stores. I'm not so sure Marx would have appreciated this.
I landed in Germany just in time to catch the last day of the annual summer Kollnauer Fescht. I lived in this little village in the German Black Forest for a year between 2014 and 2015, and I haven't been back in over two and a half years. It's nice to see that nothing much has changed. I drank a glass of the local wine, Müller Thurgau, and enjoyed the general frivolity of the street festival. What is so wonderful about these German local events is the intergenerational aspect of the sociality, and the simple merriment of sitting outside and drinking cold beer.
A friend recommended this book, and I devoured it in one sitting. I have always loved Ehrenreich's writing and for many years I taught her book, Nickel and Dimed. Because I also learned so much from Bait and Switch and Brightsided, I was eager to read her take on the hyper-medicalization of aging in the United States. She did not disappoint. It is so refreshing to read about someone who is growing old with grace and who is not afraid of the inevitable. Highly recommended for anyone over 40.
Just received the design for my next academic book, Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women's Activism and Global Solidarity during the Cold War, coming out with Duke University Press in February 2019. I specifically asked that it not be red, and I love what they did with the cover.
A lovely two days of discussing the various experiences of state socialist feminism in China, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. I love scholarly collaboration!
This is one of the Bulgarian covers of a sexual education book that was translated from the German and first published in Bulgaria in 1979.
Continuing with my massive lack of productivity, I watched two more entire soccer games today: the second round of quarter finals. England beat Sweden in the first, and then the second game went into extra time. Russia lost to Croatia on penalties after 120 minutes of spirited play. When I wasn't watching the game, I was talking about it or thinking about it. I basically accomplished nothing else beyond writing this blog post. A good Saturday in July, I suppose. But thank goodness the World Cup happens only once every four years!
A new radio interview about democratic socialism and the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Here's an article summarizing the discussion: http://mynorthwest.com/1039561/american-socialism-growing-support/
I read Eric Bennet's article, "How Iowa Flattened Literature," in the Chronicle Review a few years ago and was very excited for this book. His basic argument is that Cold War pressures, and especially the need to fight against socialist realism, deeply influenced the development of American creative writing programs in the 1940s and 1950s. A lot of the techniques that the literary cognoscenti associate with "good" writing today are really artifacts of the anti-communist politics of the Cold War. It's a fascinating argument, and it helps me understand why much American creative writing tends to hyper-focus on the individual and the sensory experience of the world and eschews politics, philosophy, and ideas.
¡Viva las Puertorriqueñas!
The Summer issue of the World Policy Journal just arrived in the post with my new article on the Russian women's activist, Alexandra Kollontai. It is always a thrill to see one's words in print on nice, glossy paper. And I am even more delighted to share an issue with Slavoj Zizek!
Because I was traveling, I actually read this book on my e-reader. This is a great introductory primer for young people that Varoufakis originally wrote in Greek to his own child, Xenia. He has a lively voice and it is a very fast read, with lots of pop culture references. I think the most useful discussion is his exploration of the difference between exchange value and experiential value, and his call for radical democratization of the economy.
Once every four years, I get completely sucked into the World Cup and fail to do anything productive for weeks. And so it begins again. I just watched Germany get walloped by Mexico in a surprise upset. I like the German team, but boy were they outplayed in this game. Thankfully, Sweden and South Korea are the other two members of their group, but they need to get their acts together. They weren't looking too Weltmeister-ey today.
In 1987, when I went to see U2 in Tempe, Arizona, I was 17 and my mom had to drive me all the way from San Diego. I barely had the funds to buy the tour T-shirt that I plan to wear tonight (I think I paid in quarters).
Now, over 30 years later, I'm taking my own 16-year-old daughter to see the band in Philly, and I have enough money to buy us both T-shirts!
These arrived in the post yesterday. These are the bound galleys that will go out for long-lead media and potential blurbers. After months of slaving away on this, it's so satisfying to see my words manifest in print.