Friday, February 18, 2011

Privacy and Public Struggle

It may be a bit hard to follow, but this article by Ta Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic raises a point about visibility and identity that I think is directly related to last Thursday's discussion in class. The incident he's discussing was an assault on CBS correspondent Lara Logan during the demonstrations/celebration in Cairo following Mubarak's resignation. The story has since been politicized in some exceptionally ugly ways, but Coates is talking more generally about the trade-offs between personal privacy and the public struggle for equal treatment.

Coates is a very thoughtful young writer, and he maintains one of the internet's most informative and well-behaved comments sections. He's also written at great length on his blog about Civil War history, slavery and the antebellum South, for anyone interested in digging into those topics.


  1. Thanks for posting this. The idea that one could trade one right for another connects to Benjamin's Author as Producer, which removes artistic production from isolated spheres and into an interconnected social matrix. This idea comes from early Karl Marx, which criticizes the Enlightenment idea of individual rights as something isolating and reactionary. Rights aren't just about individual liberty but can be about expansive social progress.

    Taking this conversation to art is interesting since art can be so extremely personal and interior and the trade-offs or risks aren't necessarily what we think they're going to be. But to quote that great Marxist Steve Guttenberg from my favorite episode of "Party Down" -- "No risk means no reward."

  2. Ta Nehisi Coates Great!!!! I have been reading his blog all day!!!!

  3. I'm glad you guys got something from this. As I hinted at, this post was actually a bit garbled in delivery, which is unusual for Coates, who generally makes every attempt to be clear in his thinking and writing. I haven't read it, but I think his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, might also be very good.