Archive for April 10th, 2015

Deadlines (Part-2)

Screaming is rare. Outside the movies, war zones, or psychiatric institutions, it’s unusual to hear anything more than an exaggerated squeak. This wasn’t that.

Alison Luria was screaming. She stood in the middle of the cluttered office, rigidly upright, arms by her sides, head angled slightly back. Her mouth was locked open, eyes tightly shut. The sound she was emitting, in a continuous, only slightly uneven stream, overwhelmed apprehension. It was less a specifiable noise than an abstract inaudibility, the unheard manifested as a monstrous positive entity, insensibility made palpable.

It had begun at almost exactly the moment of entering the room. I had not quite finished closing the door behind me, still uncertain whom first to address, when – as if out of nowhere, without the slightest warning – a shard of sonic shrapnel sliced into my head, making any further thought impractical.

It was my second visit to the company, and the small team was already vaguely familiar.

Fred something, the tech guy, was (incredibly) ignoring the phenomenon, and seemed still to be working. Alison’s editorial assistant, Xu Ling, had retreated beneath her desk, where she now lay perfectly immobile, coiled into a tight fetal knot. Millie Zhang, the sales director, had missed it. Her tidy, south-facing work-space was unoccupied. It had been set up as an oasis of light and order, semi-withdrawn from the gloomy debris-field of the larger open-plan attic area. She was probably out on a sales call.

I had never fallen prey to mystical inclinations, and problems of an esoteric nature seldom detained me. If, on rare occasions, hints of hidden profundities over-spilled the dikes of dismissal, they elicited vague repulsion, rather than enthusiasm. I would, at that time, have reacted with instinctive aversion to any claim that the suspension of reason opens secret gates. (No one had ever bothered me with such suggestions.) Yet as the threads of intelligence were severed by the scream, it was as if access were being granted to the inner substance of the world, violently unwrapped from the distractions of visual identification. Something was poking through the wall of sonic oblivion – a clicking or crackling. This isn’t a message, said the click-code, it’s just the sound of your auditory nerves dying.

Would it ever stop? Had it, in reality, ever begun? Its duration had become a matter of no significance, because this breakage of the world was no longer Alison Luria screaming, but the scream as it existed in eternity, freed from the bonds of fact. It was the primordial scream, vast beyond cosmology, anonymous and inexpressive, the pure howl of being now perceived as it always had been …

… and then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ceased.

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April 10, 2015admin 19 Comments »
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Discrimination II

It would be hard to find a clearer illustration of the topic than this article (written from the vehemently discrimination-negative left). The stakes are so clear that detailed commentary is entirely otiose. Some snippets:

The contrast was stark. One group of South Asians had become objects of fear and derision and targets of immigration enforcement and extra-legal violence. Another group of South Asians was being heralded for their social, economic, and cultural contributions to the United States. … the complexities that lay beneath the surface of “South Asian” identity were flattened into a powerful binary; South Asian Americans were either model minorities or national threats. … But this was not merely a post–9/11 phenomenon. In fact, the division between the feared and the desired, the denigrated and the celebrated, has been a defining feature of South Asian racialization in the United States for over one hundred years. … for decades, federal immigration laws and popular culture have worked together to make these distinctions, to distinguish desirable from undesirable South Asians. … Between 1904 and 1917 … xenophobia and Indophilia were not simply contradictory attitudes that played out in two separate social spheres — that is, South Asians were not simply denigrated in political debates over immigration restriction while they were simultaneously celebrated in popular culture. Instead, each sphere generated its own set of distinctions between who was desirable and who was not, and each set of distinctions reinforced the other. … the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1885 Alien Contract Labor Law, and the 1917 Immigration Act were never straightforward acts of Asian exclusion, nor was the 1965 Hart-Cellar Immigration Act — the law that is credited with ending the exclusion era — an act that fully “opened the door” to Asian immigration. All four of these Acts — in effect and in intent — helped define who within Asian populations was welcome and who was not. … the so-called exclusion laws introduced a logic that certain South Asians were admissible — or desirable — because of their class, education, and profession. This was ultimately the logic enshrined in the “occupational preferences” provisions of the 1965 Immigration Act; the legislation brought thousands of South Asian doctors, engineers, and other professionals to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, while keeping working-class migration to a minimum. … Orientalism is a double-edged set of ideas, standards, and expectations. In the realms of both immigration law and popular culture, the desired and the denigrated have always been inextricably linked; they are defined in relation to one another, with a line drawn between them.

As with most leftist tirades, the effect of this discussion is to engender appreciation for those few fraying fibers of sound public policy and cultural discernment that might otherwise be overlooked. I’m willing to grant the possible advantages of further, more minute discrimination. The fact that discrimination is occurring at all, however, is an indication that — even in this advanced stage of Cathedral dominion — sanity is not altogether dead.

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April 10, 2015admin 14 Comments »
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