Posts Tagged ‘Nick Cohen’

The strong do what they can; the weak suffer what they must…

A familiar line, but context and performance are everything. How do you picture the speaker? A calm, rational, ruthless dictator? A super-villain with a death ray? This is the sort of thing such figures tend to claim – which doesn’t mean that we necessarily accept it at face value. What about a fallen tyrant, a Lear or a Nero, still asserting such arrogance as their world falls apart around them? What if a super-hero was the speaker? (Echoes of Miller’s Batman or Alex Ross’s far superior Kingdom Come). What if it was a woman – whether downtrodden or triumphant? The line becomes less of a statement about the world, and more of a statement about the person speaking… (more…)

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The most distinctive cry of the professional academic historian, to be heard (with only minor regional variations) throughout the Western world, is “Yes, but it’s rather more complicated than that.” Historians as a species concern themselves with detail and specificity, to an almost obsessive degree; highlighting the unique features of every period and every culture that mark them out from every other period and culture, and regarding any attempt at generalisation across periods or cultures or even individual cases with, at best, hearty suspicion (while relying on any number of unspoken generalisations) because, of course, it is actually rather more complicated than that.

It’s for this reason that historians really need to pay attention to the wonderfully-titled ‘Fuck Nuance’ (Abstract: Seriously, fuck it) by sociologist Kieran Healy (more…)

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