Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: Status (page 1 of 1)


Sheila Fitzpatrick:

‘Man lives in the real world; but there’s also a parallel world: a paper one, a bureaucratic one. So the passport is the person’s double in this parallel world.’ The comment comes from a Russian woman in her thirties interviewed as part of a study in St Petersburg in 2008. She might have been channelling the philosopher Rom Harré, who called these bureaucratic doubles ‘file-selves’. It mattered a lot to Soviet citizens what their file-selves looked like: the wrong social class or nationality entered in an internal passport, or a notation restricting movement, could be a disaster. But file-selves matter elsewhere too. The Anglosphere – the UK, Canada, the US, Australia – may have eschewed the Russian/Soviet path of a compulsory internal passport, distinct from the passport required for foreign travel, but drivers’ licences and credit records often serve the same functions, and electronic identity cards may not be too far away. The British, while skittish about mandatory ID cards, have the largest number of surveillance cameras per capita of any country except China.

This is good … but maybe not as good as my essay on passports?

success robots

I go to schools a lot, have taught at uni­ver­si­ties and seen a ton of great kids and pro­fes­sors who’ve re­ally sacrificed them­selves to teach. A few years ago I worked for a few months at an Ivy League school. I ex­pected a lot of ques­tions about pol­i­tics, his­tory and lit­er­ature. But that is not what the stu­dents were re­ally in­ter­ested in. What they were in­ter­ested in — it was al­most my first ques­tion, and it never abated — was net­work­ing. They wanted to know how you net­work. At first I was sur­prised: “I don’t know, that wasn’t on my mind, I think it all comes down to the work.” Then I’d ask: “Why don’t you just make friends in­stead?” By the end I was saying, “It’s a mis­take to see peo­ple as com­modi­ties, as things you can use! Con­cen­trate on the work!” They’d get im­pa­tient. They knew there was a se­cret to get­ting ahead, that it was net­working, and that I was cru­elly with­holding success­ful strate­gies.

Peggy Noonan