Finished listening to Coates on my basement ride this morning. It's all quite thought-provoking stuff, especially the symbolic value of the Obamas to African Americans. That's something I've minimized a great deal in my criticism/disappointment in him. Coates' discussions of the "myth of white innocence," whereby even raising issues of racism bring defensive gasps and outrage, are also quite strong. That said, he does drift into race reductionism too often, making racism the hub around which all of American life revolves. He's quite correct that Trump demonstrated that being overtly white supremacist showed that whiteness was an electoral quality in itself, something that could be more valuable than competency (i.e., a black candidate who acted the way Trump did would have absolutely no chance of being elected). But he says that his supporters, even if not white supremacist, were fundamentally fine with voting a white supremacist, proving the centrality of white supremacy in American life. Okay, but why doesn't his election say that his supporters are fine with voting for a misogynist and sexual predator, that those are the central qualities? I'm not denying that racism isn't an inescapable quality of the American fabric, but Coates' presentation, however unintentionally, minimizes other hierarchies, like sex and gender. I would suggest, too, that abuse of, contempt for the working class is just as core. Yes, people of colour within the same class are treated much worse as a rule, but isn't that a centuries-old tradition of dividing people who should have much in common? Race is a vital weapon, but one in service of class fragmentation. In other words, it's a lot more complicated. In the end, tho, that's something I do love about Coates' work—I can have constructive arguments with him in my head, disagreements don't rise to contempt or dismissal.
Got about 15 minutes into the next audiobook:
Three early thriller novels from Matheson. Such a masterful, seemingly effortless writer.
Bathtub book that I'm starting today:
Proper disclosure: this is by my niece, based on her dissertation. I started reading the diss years ago and got annoyed because she and I have very different views on the intelligence of the general public, and, accordingly, which theorists to use in our work. Her affection for Adorno is rooted in a snobbery that the great consuming masses are dopes who can be suckered into anything. But I bought her book a few months ago and finally decided to give it a spin, knowing I'm probably to going to grumble the whole way thru.
edit: I read the introduction. It's painfully social science. This is going to be real work to get thru.