Slipped Disc is still putting ants in musicology pants

The row we stirred two years ago about the purpose of musicology – many of its tenured practitioners think it exists to promote social equality – is still rumbling on. Here’s a review of William Cheng’s relevant book which has appeared in the musicology house magazine, Music & Letters:

Just Vibrations: The Purpose of Sounding Good . By William Cheng. Foreword by Susan McClary. Pp. xix + 160. ( University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2016. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-472-05325-4.)
Kyle Devine. Music and Letters, Volume 99, Issue 1, 1 February 2018, Pages 148–150, Published: 15 May 2018

‘This is not musicology’. So says an internet troll, disparaging William Cheng’s Just Vibrations in a post on Slipped Disc (the self-proclaimed ‘most-read cultural website’). The post is unintentionally ironic and incongruous: Cheng’s core tenet is that musicology is as musicology does, while his core message is that musicology could do more to help repair our broken world if it were to champion an ethics of care as much as its more usual scholarly priorities.

Irony and incongruity notwithstanding, this commenter’s unsympathetic vibrations resonate with many others in a well-publicized backlash to Cheng’s book among a certain contingent of Slipped Disc readers (see the online magazine Junction for the author’s summaries of, and responses to, the controversy). Such readers questioned everything from whether musicology has any business engaging in cultural theory or socially transformative criticism (which ostensibly represent the effluents of ‘leftism’ and ‘postmodernism’ that interfere with ‘legitimate’ music research) to whether students in Cheng’s classes would be employable after being exposed to such thinking (which ostensibly comes at the expense of a ‘proper’ education in the facts and figures of ‘real’ music).

Online comments sections are of course notorious for the ease with which they degenerate into trolling and cyberbullying, and so it is rarely productive to take them too seriously. But the Slipped Disc backlash is so disheartening that it warrants consideration. For, although these commenters do not represent the reception of Just Vibrations among many musicians and researchers, they do represent (if in an exaggerated and inflammatory way) a canon-centric, notes-or-nothing, business-as-usual conservatism that, strangely and dangerously, still afflicts some of today’s musical thought and scholarship. It is exactly this parochialism that Cheng sets out to diagnose and treat. In the spirit of Cheng’s book, then, which calls for compassion in musical culture as much as its scholarly pursuits and professions, I want to read these trolls’ comments charitably, reparatively. So I agree: Just Vibrations is not mainstream musicology. But it is part of what any future musicology worth practising could and should be.

It is a shame that the thinking represented on Slipped Disc still has currency in musical culture. Notated music and its scholarly traditions (evidently the main concerns of the online commenters) are of course remarkable achievements, worthy of the serious musicological attention that they have been given. But crotchets and their kin have never really defined what it means to make music, to listen to it, to enjoy it—nor to be excluded, constrained, or hurt by it. Not for most people in most times and places, anyway.

Yet many musicologists and musicians still seem to be trained or enculturated to value their music most highly, and to feel they need to protect this music from various perceived threats. Such threats come in the form of other musics that prize different skill sets and literacies (i.e. different definitions of talent, creativity, and even music itself). They come in the form of other musics that compete for space in the curriculum. And they come in the form of other musics that require conceptual and methodological understandings that differ from established musicological specialisms, and which thereby stoke anxiety about the subsumption of music research into other research fields and university departments. The precepts and practices of both ‘music’ and ‘musicology’ are still jealously guarded in public discourse and the academy, even with the widespread and often more accommodating perspectives found in ethnomusicology, popular-music studies, and, more recently, sound studies (fields that, of course, can also exhibit their own parochialisms and protectionisms).

Cheng places a mirror in the face of such fears, as Susan McClary writes in her foreword to the book (she herself, along with other so-called new musicologists, is no stranger to the accusation ‘This is not musicology’). The goal of Just Vibrations is to build a reparative musicology and a reparative musical culture. Reparative musicology is a term that Cheng develops from Suzanne Cusick’s article on music and torture in Radical Musicology, 3 (2008), which is itself built on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s distinction between ‘paranoid’ and ‘reparative’ critical dispositions in scholarly work.

Paranoid scholarship is negative scholarship; it seeks and destroys, strutting its stuff and getting ahead in the process. Reparative scholarship is positive scholarship; it rebuilds and restores, fostering understanding and conviviality along the way. In other words, and to echo another one of Cheng’s main points, whereas paranoid scholarship sounds good, reparative scholarship also does good. Most academic work, Cheng shows, derives from the paranoid disposition. Our reparative purpose, by contrast, should be ‘to thrive and to enable others to do so in turn’ (p. 7) and to search actively ‘for positivity and potential’ (p. 99).

The stakes are high: ‘The cost of failing at repair is continued or added injury, from which recovery may be arduous as ever. The cost of shunning reparative efforts altogether is that there may eventually be nothing and no one worth recovering for anyway’ (pp. 102–3). To be clear, Cheng is not strictly blaming individual egos for the predominance of paranoid scholarship. He is calling attention to the ways that the systems and measures of the academic world both prompt and perpetuate the paranoid mode.

Music research has been moving in the direction advocated by Cheng. Indeed, as Cusick notes in her aforementioned article, a reparative inclination has defined ‘the work toward which several alternative musicologies (especially queer ones) aspired’. What Just Vibrations adds to these earlier interventions is another layer of reflexivity and an explicit invitation to develop the reparative mode, a mode of scholarship that is less inclined towards the systematized paranoid disposition that pushes us to ‘scramble for authority … and prestige’ (p. 5)—not only in our scholarly efforts but also in our day-to-day jobs as musicologists and musicians. This includes caring for ourselves and our colleagues as well as students, both inside and outside our departments and classrooms.

Cheng thus multiplies the courageous efforts of the previous alternative musicologies noted by Cusick (and exemplified by Cheng too) by also speaking out about attendant issues of wellbeing in academic work, thereby joining a growing conversation in musicology initiated by scholars such as James Deaville (not to mention others in musicology and beyond). Indeed, this book is a powerful call to reflect on musical and disciplinary status quos—to break free from them and talk about other things that matter just as much, if not more. William Cheng’s book is thus a kind of feelingful ‘homo musicologicus’ to be read alongside Pierre Bourdieu’s more impersonal Homo Academicus (Stanford, 1988).

If the broad offering of Just Vibrations is brave and welcome and necessary, as a monograph the book is held together by the author’s voice more than its empirical coverage. The topics used to build up and exemplify a reparative musicology (and indeed broader reparative humanities) are wide-ranging: schoolyard games and childhood daydreams in relation to bullying, chronic pain, the profession of musicology, queer practices and theories, disability studies, acoustic torture and sonic policing, US politics, and others. Because the overall message of the book is more important than its articulation through various topics, I will not summarize each chapter but encourage readers to discover for themselves the contours of Cheng’s more specific (and overall convincing) arguments.

Suffice it to say, each chapter covers serious matters with conceptual dexterity and humane sincerity. Yet this is nevertheless a playful book—the writing of a gamer and ludomusicologist. It is also a personal book; the author is an open book. Appropriately enough, the book itself has been released as an open-access publication, freely available for all to read on the University of Michigan Press’s website. Here we have another example of how Just Vibrations not only sounds good but does good, leading by example towards more open and publically engaged forms of musical thought and scholarship.

For all these reasons, Just Vibrations should be on every music researcher’s to-do list. It is a real intervention, and an invitation to further interventions. Cheng summons us to repair our field and our profession as much as the world around us. And that sounds good to me.

 

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  • Peter Owen says:

    I think all this impenetrable musicology started when, back in the 50s, Babbitt’s Princeton office was round the corner from Einstein’s, more or less, and must have felt that current musicology was a little light compared to quantum mechanics. Enter semicombinatorialty.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      There is and has always been a lot of great, perfectly understandable musicology. This blog happens to focus on the exception.

  • Academic says:

    A sad reflection of the deprioritisation of knowledge and simultaneous promotion of social action as the purpose of musicology (and other humanities disciplines overrun by bigoted left wingers). Enjoy!

  • barry guerrero says:

    13 paragraphs! That’s about 14 too many.

  • william osborne says:

    Will has a book forthcoming with a chapter devoted to blind auditions (unless he has abandoned it.) It deals, among other things, with an orchestra that excludes Asians, and that has been much discussed on SD. Those discussions were even more active on parts of the web for about a decade or so before SD was founded, and have long been a focus of “new musicology,” but it will be good to see a more substantial and formalized treatment.

    It’s true that the discussions on SD are often “disheartening,” to repeat the reviewer’s polite term. And yet SD is more closely related to “new musicology” than any other widely read music journalism since it deals with so many of the social issues surrounding classical music – and often with what might be described as a kind of postmodern subjectivity — a form of consciously situated knowledge, as it were.

    The difference is that new musicology reflects the socially progressive views of most classical music professionals, while the comments on SD trend toward forms of conservatism, and even provincial bigotry, that characterize much of classical music’s non-professional fan base. One wonders why the professionals tend to be progressive and the fans conservative, and especially why the gap is so large, each group almost defining extremes in some cases.

    It’s also interesting that the reactionary attitudes, and even chauvinsim often found in SD comments serves as a sort of documentation of the very attitudes that new musicology examines. I wonder how many musicological lurkers there are around here, but who do not participate because they would not deign to soil themselves in such distasteful frays. And what that might say about their work and their concepts of anti-elitism.

    • william osborne says:

      They promote egalitarianism as long as they don’t have to participate in it. They get a taste of egalitariansim and then thank God for elitism. (Myself included.)

      It’s a paradox that many intellectuals face. Hence the extreme irony that new musicology is centered in elite colleges and universities, almost like academic cultural country clubs that cater to pedigree children. It’s a kind of radical egalitariamism without committment to its consequences.

      • John Borstlap says:

        It is ‘salon egalitarianism’ as there is ‘salon marxism’ – as long as its adherents don’t have to live under its real burden, they think it is a good thing.

        • Michael Endres says:

          +1
          And that goes for other areas too, eg a relentless enthusiasm for immigration by those who live – usually well off – in leafy suburbs, gentrified city areas or the countryside, far away from those deplorables on lowest incomes and precarious work contracts, whose lives are actually impacted by it…

          • william osborne says:

            There is also a large middle class in the leafy suburbs that has been affected by neoliberalism with its open borders. When the working class is undermined, the erosion of the middleclass is not far away.

            On the other side of the equation is the overt racism directed toward immigrates. The issues are complex and can’t be reduced to simplistic defintions or solutions.

          • Michael Endres says:

            @William Osborne
            I agree: the middle class is on the way becoming the new working class, where wages just will be enough to make ends meet, whereas the working poor will further slide down the scale, verging on being homeless as minimum wage jobs will no longer pay enough.

            Of course racism must not be tolerated at any level, but this non negotiable principle needs to go both ways:
            it seems to me that certain attitudes amongst Muslim immigrants towards women, LGTB or Jewish people also need adressing if we want to avoid ghettos that adhere to values incompatible with our laws.

            The issues are indeed complex…

          • william osborne says:

            52% of the Muslim community in the USA thinks society should accept homesexuals. Among millennial Muslims its 60%, close to the national average for society at large which is 63%. Among evangelical Christians the number is only 34%, far lower than in the Muslim community.

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/07/homophobic-muslim-populist-bogeyman-trump-le-pen

            The article also notes that in Germany, lawmakers recently “voted to approve gay marriage (and adoption) in a historic vote. The anti-Muslim populist party Alternative for Germany opposed the measure on ideological grounds, while all six Muslim members of parliament voted in support of the bill.”

            There are definitely cultural conflicts with recent immigrants that should be carefully dealt with, but too often some of the differences are exaggerated to justify chauvinsitic beliefs.

        • william osborne says:

          It’s an old theme. Tom Wolfe, for example, made much hay out of “radical chic” as he saw it. The problem is that those willing to jump on such accusations are often making specious arguments to hide their reactionary beliefs. The phonies have an orgy of labeling each other phonies.

          • Patricia says:

            What does homosexuality (which I freely admit I find rather appalling) have to do with musicology? And what do illegal immigrants have to do with musicology? I was a Musicology major in college and thankfully, it was considered to be the study of the history of music. If the academic, political lefties have tried to rewrite this, shame on them. And, music doesn’t consist of morals. Just get on with the discipline and forget the rest. If you allow political fashion to dictate scholarship, you really have gone down the wrong road. Just listen to the music and let it dictate your path. Nothing else matters – nor should it.

          • David says:

            Do you really suppose that “the study of the history of music” is completely isolated from the world and its politics? I would suggest to you that the “eternal truths” of music that make certain sequences of sounds “good” and others “bad,” worthy of study or not, have been invented by humans and for humans. Which is certainly not to say that they are “meaningless” or “arbitrary,” but only that they cannot be considered apart from human affairs. Music isn’t and never has been made or appreciated in a vacuum: that’s obvious, isn’t it? How could musicology, even in its most technical and formalistic guise, ever be about “just the notes”? How could you write the history of Brahms’s Deutsches Requiem, for example, without considering why the composer chose not to set a single text referring to Jesus or the afterlife? Would you seriously argue that his atheism was just “irrelevant” or “incidental” to that choice, or that the recent death of his mother had no bearing on his conception of the sublime mvt. 5, which ends with the quotation from Isaiah: “I will console you, as one is consoled by his mother”? I have refrained up to now in remarking on your professed disdain for homosexuality. Do you suppose that similar attitudes contributed nothing to Tchaikovsky’s years-long depression and eventual suicide (“cholera” they called it)? Now, a lazy (bad) musicologist would try to read the composer’s psychic state into, say, the 3rd Piano Concerto (“see, he was depressed!”). A better musicologist might think about the homosocial artistic relationships the composer maintained with the likes of Léon Bakst (costume designer for the Ballet Russe) or even his turbulent love affair with Vladimir Davydov (to whom the “Symphonie pathetique” was dedicated). The point being: life enters art and you, the musicologist, ignore such connections at your peril.

          • John Borstlap says:

            To David; all that is true. But biographical research is something different from instrumentalization of the art form for political ends like leftish social engineering.

            Musicology consists of three different but interconnected territories: 1) the structural analysis of the notes; 2) biographical and historical research; and 3) the editorial research and analysis concerning textual correctness and sources (Urtext business etc.). The early music movement added another layer of related activity: how to use the results of these 3 types of research into performance practice. So, ‘true musicology’ has no need at all of marxist politization or ‘queer theory’ or ‘feminist musicology’ because such aspects are already treated under the umbrella of the above-mentioned territories of research. The difficulty with marxist, feminist or queer approaches is that the entire field is approached through an a priori political lens, distoring the material. It is turning a scientific subject into a political instrument. That is what is wrong with Cheng’s, McClaron’s and Bourdieu’s approach: they have a political agenda and that is very clear from their work. They don’t try to understand the subject but want to use the subject for an agenda which lies outside the subject.

            For instance, it is perfectly clear within normal musicology that female composers – who have been very rare – did not get much chance to develop, as distinct from female painters, and digging-up some forgotten female composer from the 17th century will make the point, but that does not mean that suddenly the importance of the work of this composer should then be pumped-up to mount a defence of emancipatory freedom. That would be a subject for politics, not musicology. Historical research is meant to understand how things have been and why, which is trying to be objective and understanding. That is – in all historiography – already difficult enough, as our gaze is always influenced by our own historical position (which is shown by books about music history which get more confused and unbalanced the nearer the narrative approaches the date of the edition).

      • Greg Hlatky says:

        “Paradox” is not the term I would use.

        • william osborne says:

          Like that great champion of American democracy and human rights, Thomas Jefferson, owning 600 slaves to work his plantation. And of course, some will tell us that the Tea Bagger’s racist politics is the answer to these contradictions…….

          • Patricia says:

            Jefferson owned slaves. He is also my favorite president. Does that mean I condone slavery? Or just that he was such an interesting man with a variety of interests. If you judge a person by only one aspect of his life (admirable or not) you have missed a lot. You may find that someone whose work you love, was himself not lovable. And the reverse is true.Once again this conversation has drifted too far afield. Back to music, if you please. And if you insist on politics, do go look elsewhere. There are plenty of sites that will accomadate your ‘musings.’

          • william osborne says:

            The comment is relevant because it illustrates that these contradictions are not just limited to musicology, but an inherent and long-standing part of society.

      • David R Osborne says:

        Feels strange commenting on a review of a book I (and I’m guessing most of us) haven’t read.

        The waters muddy even further for me, when I find myself whilst on the one hand strongly agreeing with much of what the review’s author says is the content of the book, on the other having then to balance that with the reality that these ideas are compromised by self interest, (as is so often the case with issues related to music) given that this is also a defence of a tenured academic pursuit.

        With that in mind it is easy to see where the attack on Slipped Disc, especially it’s childish characterisation of commenters as ‘trolls’ is coming from. For much the same reason as the current overgrown 2-year-old in the White House has co-opted the phrase ‘fake news’, somebody’s feeling threatened!

        • John Borstlap says:

          It is not just about this book…. it is about a wide-spread movement of thought, especially in the USA, which tries to instrumentalize art for social engineering. As a greatly esteemed collegue of mine, the brilliant [redacted], said about this movement: “The topical/political way of appropriating art for ulterior purposes is nothing new, of course, but this particular branch of it — as it has mutated in America — is especially pernicious because it deliberately preys on, exploits, and encourages cultural ignorance. It is profoundly anti-intellectual (as American culture always has been) and discourages original thought; it replaces what should be an aesthetic experience (which would require standards and a modicum of background and taste) with a pre-packaged sandwich of simplistic received opinion and cheap emotional signifiers (all clichés — e.g., “Hope. Courage. Solace. Joy. Togetherness.”) — as well as the all-important appeals to the Cult of Personality.”

        • Patricia says:

          And the former occupant of the White House had policies that, had he been white, would have been called dangerous to America and Americans and the American system of government. Yet the American press was almost completely un-critical – indeed, most of the popular press religiously followed his lead. If any commentator criticized Mr Obama and his policies, he was termed a “racist” and the conversation ended. It is one of those terms the Left uses to stop any criticism, critical thinking or simply civilized debate. And what any of this has to do with the composition, performance and reception of classical music is a mystery to me, save that a handful of rather ignorant people have made a career out of insituating politics into everything. Tchaikovsky’s personal problems notwithstanding, the music must stand or fall on it own merits. (I admit I ‘m not a PIT fan – too much needless repitition and he just goes on too long without saying much. And as I am not a fan of the Classical ballet, he has lost me there as well. But, so what? There is much music to go around and putting it into context doesn’t change the effect on the listener. That JS Bach had lots of Kinder has little to do with the genius and emotion of the B minor Mass. And music is abstract and usually defies political or moral analysis. Someone years ago tried to analyze a Chopin Etude as if it were a literary rather than a musical statement. It didn’t work. Thank heavens. If a pianist had to go through the torturous process of sociological (another useless field) scansion before every concert, he’d never get to the piece itself. Look at what the composer meant and get on with the job.

    • David says:

      Your comment gives me hope for a more charitable and less reactionary discourse: for this blog and for society at large. God knows there’s enough small-minded shoutiness in the world today. We can all do better!

  • barry guerrero says:

    William, walk to your local bar and have a cocktail, on me – send me the bill. It’s just music – it ain’t all that serious.

    • william osborne says:

      Music is a way of being. It defines and shapes who we are.

      • barry guerrero says:

        . . . so does a good cocktail.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed. The problem arises where it is not ackowledged that music is two things at once: 1) an entirely autonomic art form following its intrinsic laws and aesthetics; 2) always related to the human condition / human experience, including things that are ‘outside’ music.

        • Patricia says:

          Plato would agree. He said quite a lot about the emotional effect that music has on the listener. And he’d never heard the operas of Monteverdi, the oratorios of Handel or the Mozart Coronation Mass. Not to mention the Vaughan Williams “Tallis Fantasia.” He got it right anyway. All of the above pieces are, whatever else they may be, deeply felt. Which is one reason they work, both for the performer and the listener. What else do you need?

  • John Borstlap says:

    To demonstrate where the ‘thinking’ in this review leads to, here is a recent production – including CD – of a classical (! sic) music ensemble consisting of excellent musicians, who have fallen for the views as exposed in this ‘new musicology’:

    “American Mirror reflects on the coming together of cultures in our society, which consists of many generations and descendants of refugees, slaves, and immigrants, and how intercultural collaborations are essential to the well-being of American society.”

    “Hope. Courage. Solace. Joy. Togetherness.
    What do you hear reflected in this musical mirror?
    American Mirror is worth a listen because:
    – it will make you dance. (And maybe cry a little.)
    – Derrick has his finger on the pulse of today’s zeitgeist, and synthesizes this musically in beautiful, sincere, toe-tapping, unpretentious, and highly original ways.
    – Salastina audiences begged for this recording to happen.
    – LACO audiences gave ‘From Here A Path,’ the other piece on this album, a standing ovation two nights in a row at the premiere live performances this past weekend. How often does that happen to a piece of new music?”

    https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/derrickspivajr1

    And how does this reparative music sound?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRr6EIxu9os

    No doubt it will temporarily repaire some social problems, bringing people together who need to be brought together but who are hopefully entirely unaware of what classical music, or even serious art music, could possibly be. As music, it is primitive, to say the least, and thus unintentionally patronizing towards the audience to which it is addressed – ‘you are only good enough for this stuff’. Who wants to be ‘repaired’ by something so amateurish? Who wants to be treated by an illegal surgeon, by an amateur dentist? Who wants his tax problems be handled by a toddler?

    Behind this ‘new musicology’ lies a particular vision about the nature of classical music which reveals grave ignorance, and that is the motivation of protests against such nonsense.

    How can objections against the instrumentalization of musicology be ‘conservative’ and ‘parochial’? or merely be ‘paranoid scholarship’? It sounds like the accusations of ‘formalist’ or ‘bourgeois’ under the Soviet regime – talking about paranoia. Under the influence of PC culture, any professionalism is attacked because of the unfair exclusion of incompetence and nonsense, which ALSO has the right to be heard, seen, and listened to, as if the internet is not enough. (William’s comments on this irony regarding SD are correct.)

    It is sufficient to have a look at this ‘movement’s’ godfathers:

    Susan McClary looks at music as if they are social weaponry and compares the 1st mvt of Beethoven’s 9th symphony with rape.

    Pierre Bourdieu sees music as merely being an ‘instrument’ of social distinction and as a weapon in the class struggle, the art form being annexed by the bourgeoisie in its ongoing attempts to suppress the proletariat, and the notion of ‘high art’ as a mere flimsy invention in this struggle.

    All such thinking is by people who have only a vague idea of what classical music is, and try to use it as something it clearly is not, thanks to its nonconceptual nature. When they hear, say, a Mahler symphony they can only think: oh, the poor masses who are dominated by this patriarchal, white supremacy cult. No doubt many people who don’t get the art form, think this way, and this ‘new musicology’ wants to make a career out of such incomprehension, surfing on the waves of populism. If they would have a better understanding, they might feel urged to find ways of making the art form more accessible for people who don’t understand it, which is something very different from trying to force it into alien contexts.

    Which does not mean that the observed social and cultural problems in Western society don’t exist. But to think that classical music can only be useful in community building if it is degraded to the lowest denominator, is a serious misunderstanding – surely the art form can contribute to healing on whatever level, but not in such simplistic, unthinking and ultimately destructive way.

    Maybe this would help to understand what classical music is – not a weapon in class struggle but an alternative world of experience to compensate for the often rude reality of life, in the widest sense:

    http://www.futuresymphony.org/the-relevance-of-classical-music-part-i/

    A last word about SD. Its commentators fill a range from distorted screams from under the rock to casual professional expertise and everything in between. To generalize about this platform is to distort its meaning.

    • william osborne says:

      I very much appreciate Susan McClary’s writings, even if she loses me in some areas. In one sense, she is a musicologist, but I think she is best described as a radical aesthetic theorist, similar to writers like Donna Haraway, Roland Barthes, Susan Sonntag, Michel Foucault, and bell hooks. People working in such speculative fields naturally take risks. They open up new lines of thought which in some cases prove to be very valuable.

      Without risk, speculation, and experimentation, our intellectual lives would be severely limited, and meaningful progress all but impossible. Try to image the intellectual history of the Occident without social and cultural theorists like Max Weber, Herbert Spencer, John Locke, Karl Marx, Alexis de Tocqueville, Émile Durkheim, and John Stuart Mill to name a few.

      The ratios of failures in speculative aesthetic theory is no worse than for many other theoretical fields. About 70% of scientific experiments fail replication tests. In chemistry its 90%. In biology 80%. These numbers are true even in fields like medicine and economics where the consequences of error can be drastic. And yet there are many areas of science where significant theories are still grounded on unreproducible experimental work.

      So I happily read and admire the work of people like McClary, Haraway, hooks, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Susan Sonntag, Jurgen Habermas, Theodor Adorno, and others. In the most basic sense, it’s part of keeping an open and enquiring mind, the curiosity necessary for creativity.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I stopped reading after ‘Michel Foucault’……… difficult to take a comment seriously in which this man is seriously mentioned as an example of a serious pioneer, this crazy man with his pretentious and crazy ideas, giving teeth to the philistines: claiming all institutions are mere instruments of power by social classes, that prisons are mere boxes to get rid of ‘the unadapted’ (the ‘unacceptable other’), to relate calligraphy to militarism, to describe sexuality as a ‘social construct’ etc. etc. – hence the slogan at the walls in 1968 Paris: ‘L’imagination au pouvoir!’ In short: postmodern nonse dressed-up as serious science. It has been silly and irresponsible writings like Foucault’s who have driven this identity politics movement everywhere, emptying meaning and reality where it still was present, mobilizing nitwits to see every human endeavor as an attempt to gain power over others and nothing more – in short: nothing exists but the jungle. Hence ‘new musicology’ as an instrument itself to dismantle an art form under the disguise of ‘healing’…. a truly sinister attempt.

        • David Zimmerman says:

          Um, I gather then that you’ve never seriously engaged with Foucault. (If you had, you would never claim that he positions his project as a “serious science” . . . he is many things but a positivist he ain’t.) In any event, his output is massive and multifarious, and I think it’s a rather small-minded and ungenerous move to dismiss an entire body of work with a simple flick of the wrist because you disapprove of (A) what you take to be his “program,” and (B) the way subsequent scholars and social movements have read and used him. The fact that you view the “new musicology” as a sinister attempt to “dismantle [the] art form” from the inside finally says much more about you and your fears than it does about Cheng’s project or McCleary’s. I don’t even mean to take a position on their work or on what you call the “instrumentalization” of musicology: my point is merely that not everyone has to share your notions of what musicology should be about. If you can’t tolerate the existence of other points of view without reflexively (and hyperbolically) attacking their exponents as “crazy” or “sinister,” then I feel sorry for you, because you’ll always be close-minded and defensive, and that’s no way to be.

        • David Z. says:

          I wrote a more thoughtful response to your comment about Foucault, but it has unaccountably vanished, so I’ll simply summarize it as follows: don’t be so narrow-minded.

          You must not actually have read F. very closely if you believe that he positions his project as a “serious science” — he is many things, but a positivist he ain’t. Also, just because you disapprove of (a) what you take to be his “message” and (b) how subsequent scholars and social movements have chosen to use him does not justify a wholesale dismissal of his extensive and varied body of work as “crazy” and “pretentious.” As though the real philistines were the ones reading Foucault and not the ones bashing him!

          Also, the fact that you view the “New Musicology” as a “sinister” attempt to dismantle the art form from the inside finally reveals much more about you and your fears than it does about the likes of Cheng and McClary. And I’m not even a fan of their brand of criticism: I just dislike your intolerance for other notions of what musicology is about.

          • John Borstlap says:

            You don’t seem to realize that MF wanted to ‘reveal’ the political power behind institutions which have, over a very long period, been created as an attempt to replace the arbitrary despotism of the ancien régime by more fair systems based upon Enlightenment thought, encouraging younger generations to see the ‘class power struggle’ everywhere – so, turning every subject into a marxist chimaera. A confused mind, supporting islamism, defending a Red Army Faction lawyer and east Germany spy, etc. etc.

            I read ‘Madness and Civilization’ and ‘The history of sexuality’, which are good examples of quasi-science: in elliptical, jargon-loaded and twisted language (comparable with Derrida, not attempting to be clear and logical but conjuring-up a ‘magical’ language meant to impress) he treats common subjects as if revealing the ‘power’ behind the ‘façade’. A real scientist, be him/her in the field of sociology, anthropology or culture, would never get so silly as seriously ‘demonstrate’ the ‘veiled attempt’, by ‘civilization’, to ‘militarize’ its innocent civilians when they learn to write within restricted linear spaces – in an attempt at calligraphy. He had a problem with the concept of discipline, hence his politization of treatments of insanity, and his attempt to explain crime as ‘transgression’ of unfair political domination. It’s juvenile stuff really and no wonder it got popular at universities, infecting the humanities.

            “He would praise sado-masochistic activity in interviews with the gay press, describing it as ‘the real creation of new possibilities of pleasure, which people had no idea about previously.'”

            “Foucault’s colleague Pierre Bourdieu summarised the philosopher’s thought as ‘a long exploration of transgression, of going beyond social limits, always inseparably linked to knowledge and power.'”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault#The_History_of_Sexuality_and_Iranian_Revolution:_1976%E2%80%9379

    • Harvard Undergrad says:

      Thanks for this post! It was very insightful.

  • BillG says:

    A good friend once gave me advice when following links suggested by others. Read the story itself, but never, ever go to the comment section.

  • Scott says:

    “But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said. This describes Cheng and SWJs in a nutshell.

    If you can’t do teach. If you can’t teach, apply SJW to everything.

  • John Borstlap says:

    To demonstrate where the ‘thinking’ in this review leads to, here is a recent production – including CD – of a classical (! sic) music ensemble consisting of excellent musicians, who have fallen for the views as exposed in this ‘new musicology’:

    “American Mirror reflects on the coming together of cultures in our society, which consists of many generations and descendants of refugees, slaves, and immigrants, and how intercultural collaborations are essential to the well-being of American society.”

    “Hope. Courage. Solace. Joy. Togetherness.
    What do you hear reflected in this musical mirror?
    American Mirror is worth a listen because:
    – it will make you dance. (And maybe cry a little.)
    – Derrick has his finger on the pulse of today’s zeitgeist, and synthesizes this musically in beautiful, sincere, toe-tapping, unpretentious, and highly original ways.
    – Salastina audiences begged for this recording to happen.
    – LACO audiences gave ‘From Here A Path,’ the other piece on this album, a standing ovation two nights in a row at the premiere live performances this past weekend. How often does that happen to a piece of new music?”

    https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/derrickspivajr1

    And how does this reparative music sound?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRr6EIxu9os

    No doubt it will temporarily repaire some social problems, bringing people together who need to be brought together but who are hopefully entirely unaware of what classical music, or even serious art music, could possibly be. As music, it is primitive, to say the least, and thus unintentionally patronizing towards the audience to which it is addressed – ‘you are only good enough for this stuff’. Who wants to be ‘repaired’ by something so amateurish? Who wants to be treated by an illegal surgeon, by an amateur dentist? Who wants his tax problems be handled by a toddler?

    Behind this ‘new musicology’ lies a particular vision about the nature of classical music which reveals grave ignorance, and that is the motivation of protests against such nonsense.

    How can objections against the instrumentalization of musicology be ‘conservative’ and ‘parochial’? or merely be ‘paranoid scholarship’? It sounds like the accusations of ‘formalist’ or ‘bourgeois’ under the Soviet regime – talking about paranoia. Under the influence of PC culture, any professionalism is attacked because of the unfair exclusion of incompetence and nonsense, which ALSO has the right to be heard, seen, and listened to, as if the internet is not enough. (William’s comments on this irony regarding SD are correct.)

    It is sufficient to have a look at this ‘movement’s’ godfathers:

    Susan McClary looks at music as if they are social weaponry and compares the 1st mvt of Beethoven’s 9th symphony with cumbersome rape.

    Pierre Bourdieu sees music as merely being an ‘instrument’ of social distinction and as a weapon in the class struggle, the art form being annexed by the bourgeoisie in its ongoing attempts to suppress the proletariat, and the notion of ‘high art’ as a mere flimsy invention in this struggle.

    All such thinking is by people who have only a vague idea of what classical music is, and try to use it as something it clearly is not, thanks to its nonconceptual nature. When they hear, say, a Mahler symphony they can only think: oh, the poor masses who are dominated by this patriarchal, white supremacy cult. No doubt many people who don’t get the art form, think this way, and this ‘new musicology’ wants to make a career out of such incomprehension, surfing on the waves of populism. If they would have a better understanding, they might feel urged to find ways of making the art form more accessible for people who don’t understand it, which is something very different from trying to force it into alien contexts.

    Which does not mean that the observed social and cultural problems in Western society don’t exist. But to think that classical music can only be useful in community building if it is degraded to the lowest denominator, is a serious misunderstanding – surely the art form can contribute to healing on whatever level, but not in such simplistic, unthinking and ultimately destructive way.

    Maybe this would help to understand what classical music is – not a weapon in class struggle but an alternative world of experience to compensate for the often rude reality of life, in the widest sense:

    http://www.futuresymphony.org/the-relevance-of-classical-music-part-i/

    A last word about SD. Its commentators fill a range from distorted screams from under the rock to casual professional expertise and everything in between. To generalize about this platform is to distort its meaning.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I wrote a comment upon this review, but the system did not pick it up, or the content was too subversive to be exposed.

    https://subterraneanreview.blogspot.nl/2018/05/new-musicology.html

  • Barbara Eichner says:

    Whatever the merits of the book in question (which I haven’t read), the musicology-bashing on this platform is ridiculous. Without musicology there would be no reliable editions to perform from, no biographies to read (because popular biographers rely heavily on the spadework done by specialists, whether or not they acknowledge their work), and many discoveries of forgotten music and musicians would simply not have happened. So don’t slander a whole profession because you find the terminology a bit heavy-going (ever made that complaint to a nano-physicist), or because you disagree with an author’s political standpoint. There is more to having an intelligent conversation about music than fawning over performers or repeating long discredited but racy anecdotes about composers.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Very well said. Thank God, musicology bashing in this blog is nowhere as frequent as the bashing or hyping of some performers.

    • Academic says:

      You’re referring to traditional musicological work (that which is actually concerned with music). Self styled new musicologists would wince at the prospect of creating new editions for us to enjoy.

      • Patricia says:

        I hope by ‘new editions’ that you mean going to the actual manuscript, authenticated as being by the composer, and just putting that into print- and not adding things you think the composer really mean. Just play what he wrote…. Try not to think you know more than he did.

        • Barbara Eichner says:

          No, Patricia, I mean something considerably more complicated. I won’t waste your time by explaining what philology is and does, but it is a lot more work than just putting somebody’s “authentic” autograph (which for most musical works doesn’t exist) into Sibelius or Finale format.

    • DAVID says:

      Without composers there would simply be no musicology in the first place, and to this day very few major composers, if any, have devoted themselves to the study of musicology. That doesn’t mean there is no place for musicology — on the other hand let’s not overstate its importance. Major works have been written long before the discipline of musicology even emerged as an academic field, and many new works will be written by composers woefully ignorant of musicology. I’m sure many in the academia might consider this viewpoint short-sighted and even reactionary, and perhaps that is precisely part of the very problem we are here grappling with: namely that academia has now become insular and self-referential to such a degree that it has simply lost touch with its particular subject-matter. Throw in the so-called “progressive” zeitgeist of our time (“progressive” solely in theory however, since it shamelessly continues to enjoy the fruits of the very system it purports to criticize, as attending these academic institutions in and of itself already implies belonging to a certain socio-economic class) and the result seems to be a self-contained and rather narcissistic discourse that ironically recreates the very exclusions and elitisms it had claimed to address. Musicology may actually earn much more respect by taking on a humbler stance and revisiting its self-congratulatory, somewhat condescending position — one through which transpires a conspicuous lack of self-critique and humility.

      • John Borstlap says:

        “Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” (Debussy)

      • David (henceforth Z.) says:

        By the way, the David that wrote that comment is not *this* David, who thinks the other David fails to appreciate the enormous possibilities for social mobility entailed by a university education, particularly given the recent push by the likes of Harvard and Stanford to recruit socioeconomically-disadvantaged students and extend truly staggering amounts of financial aid to their student bodies. This David also thinks the other David paints a rather caricatured picture of academic musicology and would wish to stress that some scholars are generally very sensitive to issues of class, elitism, and exclusionism.

        • DAVID 2 says:

          Hi! For the sake of clarity, this is the David that one wrote the previous post on this page dated May 27, 2:48 pm (henceforth David 2 for the sake of convenience). I just wanted to say that I actually agree with some of the points you made — namely, that getting an advanced degree from a recognized institution can indeed provide social mobility and that many of these institutions can prove to be incredibly generous in providing financial help for those who otherwise might be unable to attend. I also believe that some in the academia are indeed sensitive to issues of class and exclusionism. Nonetheless, I also believe we are here talking about a relatively small minority, that it takes unusual talent and ability (as well as a little luck) to get into an ivy league university and that those doors still do remain closed to a large majority, as the odds are not stacked in one’s favor, especially when one has had to attend average or mediocre schools beforehand. The real issue I was trying to bring out is the fact much of the social discourse in today’s academia still remains rather “academic” (in a different sense) in that it still very much belongs to, and remains inscribed within, an overall system which it claims to criticize and call into question, without however taking much concrete action in the actual world. People who feel strongly about social inequalities and injustices tend to actually do something in the real world to remedy them; they are not content merely dissertating about them in publications that remain destined to a select minority. This brings me to the point about musicology: although it can be enlightening to understand the cultural background and connections surrounding a particular work, I would argue that no amount of research, no matter how thoughtful and sophisticated, can ever help truly understand a musical work — and this for the simple reason that, in its essence, such work conveys a message that can never be expressed otherwise (otherwise it would resort to a medium other than music), a message that is not limited to its original setting which always overcomes its particular conditions — whether those be social, cultural, or historical. In fact, I would argue that every significant work of art contains this very dimension — one that is never reducible to particular historical conditions, which is the very reason why Beethoven or Shakespeare still speak to us today: precisely because their message contains a universal, one might even say timeless, dimension which is not reducible to any kind of analysis (ironically, not even musical analysis). I genuinely wonder, without being facetious, whether many musicologists are actually able to experience music at this innermost level — in other words, without the mediation of sophisticated analyses and discourses and without attempting to dissect the cultural or historical conditionedness of a particular work. In my opinion it would be a little bit like merely reading and theorizing about love without ever having truly experienced it: you may read volumes about it, but when you do experience it, you understand that no analysis could possibly match it, that no possible discourse could ever do it justice. I believe something of the kind is going on in the relationship between music and musicology, and that this very distance is only exacerbated by the current academic discourse which seems to want to turn this primal experience of music into a purely theoretical pursuit — one that is never unmediated, and thus one which somehow ends up missing the very “object” it was intended to understand. The very point of art, it seems to me, is precisely that it offers such unmediated access — which does not mean thinking about it is pointless, but rather that the intrinsic limits of doing so should be recognized for what they are.

          • John Borstlap says:

            “…. no amount of research, no matter how thoughtful and sophisticated, can ever help truly understand a musical work — and this for the simple reason that, in its essence, such work conveys a message that can never be expressed otherwise (otherwise it would resort to a medium other than music), a message that is not limited to its original setting which always overcomes its particular conditions — whether those be social, cultural, or historical.”

            Entirely correct.

            Music (art music, that is) is not addressed to the intellect, or class, or gender or whatever new musicologists dream-up, but to the emotional/intuitive part of the human being, what you could call the inner Self – the realm of interior experience. And that is, in general, the same everywhere and in every historical period. The Self is universally human.

            “We could point towards classical music as a repository of emotional knowledge and civilizational values, as an emotionally uplifting experience, as a signifier of cultural identity and a symbol of ethical awareness, but since these things have different meanings for every individual, it is much better to describe the art form in a way which includes all of these things: as offering an alternative to the modern world, contrary to the idea that classical music should be a reflection of the modern world. Where modernity draws modern man out of his own inner realm, classical music offers a place of inner restoration, anchoring one’s Self and creating a point of orientation and awareness from which the outward, modern world can be seen and dealt with.”

            http://www.futuresymphony.org/the-relevance-of-classical-music-part-i/

          • Lynn says:

            Yes entirely correct.

            What I do not understand are those musicologists who claim that…. “musical background matters and that basic aural skills, the ability to read music, and time spent playing an instrument in ensembles drastically alters one’s experience of music.”

            “Drastically alters one’s experience of music” ??

            This makes no sense. First of all I do not see how it could be disproven that some experienced non-musicians hear music in much the same way that trained musicians do, and lack only the technical vocabulary to describe their experiences. Viewed from an entirely different angle, it is hard to imagine that composers would lavish much attention on their music if they thought it could only be “understood” by musicians—always a negligible percentage of the population. Furthermore, if musical understanding were a function of musical literacy, there would be no way to account for the history of musical connoisseurship in Western Europe, which has witnessed the expansion of patronage of all kinds, and the development of larger and larger audiences, the majority of whom are not now and have never been musically literate.

      • Barbara Eichner says:

        Saying that there were composers before there was musicology is about as useful as saying that there was weather before there was meteorology. Nobody doubts that the study of music wouldn’t exist without the creation of music. This looks suspiciously like a straw man.

    • Lynn says:

      Barbara —

      Before I address the ‘musicology-bashing’ I would like to ask you a question.

      Do you strongly agree with all of the following points?

      1) Music is devoid of any human meaning and is merely the source of a distinctive kind of deep and harmless pleasure.

      2) We need bring to music no special qualities of character or intellect, and no extra-musical interests or values, but only an isolated sense of abstract proportion; for music presents forms that have no important connection with anything outside music, and the rewards of music are entirely self-contained. Our love of music is essentially unrelated to anything else that we value: music speaks of nothing that independently matters to us.

      3) The prime characteristic of Music, the alpha and omega of its essential effect is its perpetual production in us of an emotional excitement of a very intense kind, which yet cannot be defined under any known head of emotion. This sort of emotion is unknown (incomprehensible) outside the region of musical phenomena.

      4) Music arouses various feelings in us, and these (in part) cause us to experience the music as expressive, where that experience can be characterized independently of those feelings. These aroused feelings have an epistemological role, that is, the aroused feelings are the way in which we detect the expressive structure of the piece.

      • Barbara Eichner says:

        These are strange propositions indeed. I would disagree with nos 1-3, and no. 4 seems to touch upon music psychology and the history of emotions, both very fruitful inquiries I understand, but not my patch at all.
        As a musicologist / music historian, I’m intensely interested in the changing meaning(s) of music over time.

  • BillG says:

    I don’t believe in music. It’s just a theory.

  • Allen says:

    Musicology?

    Nah, I don’t agree with all that fancy book learnin.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    That guy has got lots of undeserved attention an earlier post, and now he wants more of the stuff.

  • Leo says:

    Well this “new musicology” is simply a confusion:
    it is a sociology of music, sociology of musicology, but in no way research of music, as it only researches the social surrounding around music, which is probably easier – as in order to actually research music, one would need a lot of very specialized information which requires much more work to learn than the incessant emission of social-change babble, which jargon and its uses can be acquired fairly quickly.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There is nothing wrong with the sociology of music, in contrary: it is a fruitful territoty. But with a wrong presentation and a wrong motivation, it mobilizes exactly those forces who are waiting in the wings to bring down this ‘elitist’ and ‘snobbish’ art form and its many silly ‘old fogeys’ who don’t want to listen to ‘modernity’ and the ‘social concerns’ which are connected to the many emancipation movements.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Um…the study of who wrote music, who played music and who listened to music are all surely part of musicology. For instance, a musicology question could be whether the composer of a piece of music elicited the response from his audience he wanted or intended (and most composers think intently about how the audience will react).

      • John Borstlap says:

        I think that last thing is a bit more complex: if they are any good, composers imagine themselves to be the ideal audience that wants to hear what they have just imagined. Composers who write with audience reception in mind, i.e. hoping to achieve certain responses, listen to an imaginary other and not an imaginary self and that means that their music will be less good / authentic. If JS Bach had written ‘for the audience’ he would certainly not have sprinkled so many unusual complexities and dissonances throughout his music (which was the common critique during his life time: too complex, too dissonant = chaotic).

        • Barbara Eichner says:

          How do we know what composers thought about their creative processes and their intended audiences? I wouldn’t base my assumptions about Hildegard’s or Josquin’s or indeed Bach’s motivations on what (some) contemporary, living composers think they are doing, or would like to do. This would be a flagrant violation of the historical method. And the equation of “authenticity” with “aesthetic quality” is something seen more frequently in today’s popular music, where for example autobiographic songs / lyrics are given pride of place.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Of course you cannot pin down such attitudes in the way of an X-ray, also because they may change in appearance over time, but you can conclude such things from biographical evidence, for instance Monteverdi’s defenses of his ‘seconda prattica’ in the discussions about opera at the beginning of the 17th century when this new form of monody was often considered ‘strange’. Lully wrote for effect at the french court of Louis XIV, and we hardly listen to his music, while Handel tried again and again to have his audiences share his own particular enthusiasms, and successfully so. The same with JS Bach. Mozart was deemed ‘too complex’ for many of his contemporaries, and while he set-out to please his audiences, obviously he did not compromise on his musical ideas (his letters are clear about this). Not to speak about Beethoven… etc. etc. Such people had an inner vision about what they wanted to bring tinto the world, and expected it to be comprehensible for audiences, and were disappointed when this did not immediately happen. The typical ‘creative character’ is, basically, the same across time and space, it is a psychological thing.

  • Barbara Eichner says:

    I’m afraid you will never get a historian to agree that anything is the same across time and space.
    Minor pedantries: Monteverdi defends a particular approach to dissonances, i.e. introducing unprepared sevenths or ninth for expressive reasons, not the use of monody – there is no piece in the Fifth Book of Madrigals that could be properly called “monodic”. And we have no idea whatsoever how Bach’s contemporaries reacted to any of his major works, and we don’t know whether their response or lack thereof pained him or not.

    • Barbara Eichner says:

      (This comment was addressed to John Borstlap but ended up in the wrong place.)

    • John Borstlap says:

      Re Monteverdi: I was talking about his operas, which are thoroughly monodic, although interpresed with madrigal-like interludes, following the theories and ideas of the Florentine Camerata. It was the theoretician Artusi who criticized Monteverdi’s free use of dissonance but he did not discuss the operas. Yet, especially in the operas free dissonance is endemic, following the narrative rather than purely linear musical dynamics, and although this was successful with audiecnes it did raise some eyebrows.

      Re Bach: we know that his superiors in Leipzig regularly criticized the nature of his output for being ‘too operatic’, and we know that composer Scheibe published a scathing text about B’s music:

      “Scheibe writes, in part, that “this great man [i.e., Bach] would be the admiration of whole nations if he had more amenity [Annehmlichkeit], if he did not take away from the natural element in his pieces by giving them a turgid [schwülstig] and confused style, and if he did not darken their beauty by an excess of art” (The New Bach Reader, ed. Hans T. David and Arthur Mendel, rev. by Christoph Wolff [New York: W. W. Norton, 1998], 338).”

      Bach had an irritable temperament and did not like the way he was treated in Leipzig. It is not so difficult to connet the one with the other. And his music was indeed oldfashioned and over-complex from the point of view of the contemporary music of his time: it was composers like Vivaldi and Handel who where known throughout Europe, not Bach who was a local ‘oddity’, even considered so by his own sons who called him ‘the old wig’. There is extensive literature about B’s position within the context of his time.

  • Alistair Hinton says:

    Musicology is a very important phenomenon provided that it is handled appropriately. One thing about New Musicology is that it’s broadly similar to New Complexity in that morphs into the old or even semi-defunct veriety in whatever time it takes to do so; another is that McClarification sounds like a self-contradiction in terms, probably because it often is…

    • Patricia says:

      Most of these comments are just examples of the mewlings and pulings of the inbred academic. Addressing any matter directly is impossible: they are masters of the constitutionally oblique. Imagine if conductors behaved that way on the podium, or the harpsichordist at the keyboard! No concert would ever reach an end – and the audience would have fled. Fortunately, most performers don’t have the luxury of this idle and inconsequential musing. They have actual, wonderful work to do. I suggest you all leave them to get on with it.

  • Patricia says:

    Most of the above comments are superfluous. Musicology is an established, legitimate field of study: that too many people in the arts are politically naive,un-sophisticated and left-leaning is a shame, but predictable. I wish they would just do their jobs and leave political opinions out of it. I have no interest whatsover in what a conductor, singer or instrumentalist thinks of any political position. My only concern is how well they perform their craft. If people are silly enough to allow ill-informed political nonsense to infiltrate and influence their work, the work will suffer.In all the years of interviewing musicians, not one ever wanted to discuss politics and it never occurred to me to bring it into the discussion. When I turned a concert review in to the paper, no one said, that’s nice,but what think you of the White House’s position on fill-in-the-blank?Most academics’ ideas on politics are just silly. It is also a shame that so much of academia lists t the left, or indeed, lists anyway at all. Please just get back to first principles and leave the rest out of it.

  • Al LeGretto says:

    I’ve read this article twice now and I’m still unable to figure out what on Earth this person is talking about.

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