Who the fuck am I, anyway?
The problem I'm trying to solve with this page is to provide some sort of self-introduction for those who might consider some sort of relationship with me, be it employment, romantic, or otherwise.
It's somewhat mysterious how I should go about this. I am a scholar, not a quantifiable unit of production (figure 1), and the whole idea of some sort of skills-matching seems really weird to me. I do not want to be hired for my passable Microsoft Word skills or because I have some limited ability in technology or because I'm a warm body. I bring a lot more than that to the table and if that's what you're looking for, we're simply not going to get along for very long.
I am interested in ideas. That's how I am able, for example, to understand that conservatism is not monolithic, but rather a terribly fraught alliance of seven different kinds of conservatism. These "tendencies" of conservatism share some, but not all, ideas; there are overlaps and conflicts.
In a series of critical and thoughtful analyses Mr. Benfell has demonstrated an extraordinary level of scholarship. The breadth of David's reading and ability to synthesize and then to ask original and penetrating questions, while challenging to cultural norms and accepted frameworks, is illustrative of an originality that is demanded by the complexity of contemporary social problems. The essays developed for this course demonstrate that David is quite ready to take on the challenge of dissertation research.—JoAnn McAllister
December 31, 2013
I am interested in the failure of our present system of social organization. 1 For instance, that any market system of exchange inherently privileges whomever is more able to say no, and that this privilege is cumulative, leading to a widening gulf between rich and poor.2 I am interested in this system's failure to address existential threats to human survival,3 such as climate change.4
David's understanding of sustainability issues is deep and his work on the issues is highly creative. In this course he grasped the material and then went on to analysis of the modes of thought that resist sustainability, the limits of individual efforts and plans for research that may assist broader change.—Marc Pilisuk
May 1, 2013
Critical Theory, applied, or other things people might want to know about me
I am vegetarian ecofeminist, anarchist, naturist, and Taoist. I am vegetarian ecofeminist in part because as an anarchist, opposition to hierarchy of humans over animals follows from opposition to hierarchy among humans; in part out of concern for the environment;5 and in part for health reasons. I am anarchist largely because the dominator system of social organization is a failed system that leads to violence and injustice against humans, animals, and the environment,6 and because it has utterly failed to address the climate change crisis.7 I am naturist because I believe that personal autonomy is an unalienable right that people may do with their bodies what they choose and that no one may impose anything—be it second-hand tobacco smoke, clothing, military service, or pregnancies—on those bodies. I am Taoist because I am, and because Taoism does not anthropomorphize the mystical.8
- 1. Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Crown, 2012); Neil Irwin, "In Scotland and Beyond, a Crisis of Faith in the Global Elite," New York Times, September 20, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/upshot/in-scotland-and-beyond-a-crisis-of-faith-in-the-global-elite.html
- 2. Max Weber, "Class, Status, Party," in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 119-129.
- 3. Edward "Rocky" Kolb, et al., "Three minutes and counting," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 19, 2015, http://thebulletin.org/three-minutes-and-counting7938
- 4. Mark McDonald, "U.N. Report from Rio on Environment a ‘Suicide Note’," New York Times, June 24, 2012, http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/u-n-report-from-rio-on-environment-a-suicide-note/; Eugene Robinson, "Our politicians are flunking the vision test," Washington Post, November 3, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-our-politicians-are-flunking-the-vision-test/2014/11/03/2776c154-639e-11e4-836c-83bc4f26eb67_story.html; Roberto Savio, "The Future of the Planet and the Irresponsibility of Governments," InterPress Service, November 21, 2014, http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/11/the-future-of-the-planet-and-the-irresponsibility-of-governments/; Roberto Savio, "The Sad Future of Our Planet," InterPress Service, December 15, 2014, http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/12/the-sad-future-of-our-planet/
- 5. Seth Borenstein, "Climate Change: U.S. Heat Waves, Wildfires And Flooding Are 'What Global Warming Looks Like'," Huffington Post, July 3, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/climate-change-us-heat-wave-wildfire-flooding_n_1645616.html; Bettina Boxall, "Earth may be near tipping point, scientists warn," Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2012, http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0607-global-tipping-20120607,0,4125302.story; William J. Burroughs, Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University, 2005); Felicity Carus, "UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet," Guardian, June 2, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet; Deutschewelle, "Mankind must change ways to survive, report says," May 8, 2012, http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15935446,00.html; Justin Gillis, "As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks," New York Times, December 16, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/science/earth/warming-arctic-permafrost-fuels-climate-change-worries.html; Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change, 2nd ed., (London: Rough Guides, 2008); Alok Jha, "Loss of Arctic sea ice '70% man-made'," Guardian, July 25, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/26/arctic-climate-change; Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change (Boston: Beacon, 2007).
- 6. John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2008); Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995); Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2007); Christopher Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (New York: Crown, 2012); Max Oelschlaeger, The Idea of Wilderness (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1991); Philip E. Slater, The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture (Eastbourne, UK: Sussex, 2009).
- 7. Cheryl Jones, "Frank Fenner sees no hope for humans," Australian, June 16, 2010, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/frank-fenner-sees-no-hope-for-humans/story-e6frgcjx-1225880091722; Mark McDonald, "U.N. Report from Rio on Environment a ‘Suicide Note’," New York Times, June 24, 2012, http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/u-n-report-from-rio-on-environment-a-suicide-note/
- 8. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, trans., Tao Te Ching (New York: Vintage, 1997).