Scott McLemee has some harsh words for Princeton’s Cornel West. In reviewing West’s new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, McLemee dissects West as a celebrity academic whose emphasis has long since shifted to the “celebrity” and not the “academic”.
McLemee dredges up all the lowlights of West’s recent career—(the spoken-word album, the Matrix cameos—almost unsportsmanlike, by the second paragraph
West described his projects as “bold,” “challenging” and “exciting.” These are adjectives, it must be said, better left in someone else’s hands…
Cornel West’s work was once bold, challenging, exciting. The past tense here is unavoidable.
West’s memoir sound like a bizarre piece of work, for sure. McLemee looks at one section on marriage terrifying to any and all students with crushes on Prof. West:
I will not let life or death stand in the way of this sublime and funky love that I crave!
One of the critic’s main grievances with the work itself: West’s choice to work with a coauthor in crafting what West calls a “‘conversational’ voice.” (Oh snap!) McLemee devotes an entire paragraph of his review to a strangely drawn-out comparison of West to David Hume, who “published numerous very popular essays with the help of a writer from Entertainment Weekly.”
After the jump, deep analysis and videos of insane professors.
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Lost in the hullabaloo over the recent Vanity Fair profile on Sarah Palin and her subsequent, if unrelated, resignation was the magazine’s article “Rich Harvard, Poor Harvard” by Nina Munk. The spread chronicles the massive expansion of Harvard’s wealth, which grew from $4.8 billion in 1990 to $36.9 billion and the rapid pace Harvard opened new buildings. But since October the endowment has lost $8 billion dollars, with President Faust warning it could lose as much as $11 billion by the end of fiscal 2008. Now trash cans overflow, shuttles are fewer, and athletes have to suffer through continental breakfasts.
“Rich Harvard, Poor Harvard” is full of blind quotes pointing fingers at which administrator screwed which pooch. No matter who is responsible, though, one thing is clear:
“They are completely fucked.”
To find out just how fucked Harvard is you have to buy the August edition of Vanity Fair. That is, unless you read our recap after the jump.
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The Ivy League’s resident black radical and pop-scholar phenom Cornel West returns to hipster-hop with the release of his second rap album, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations, featuring the likes of Prince, Talib Kweli, Andre 3000, KRS-One, Jill Scott, Rhymefest, and the late Gerald Levert. Which is impressive and all, but seriously, where’s Kanye? This is totally up his alley. They even have the same last name!
Professor West’s first album, 2001’s Sketches of my Culture, predicated the professor’s public spat with Harvard ex-prez Larry Summers and the professor’s subsequent break from the university in favor of Princeton. Though his new boss, Princeton president Shirley Tilghman, has yet to comment on Never Forget, West thinks she’ll be hipper to the project than Summers was. In a Boston Globe article West speculates,
“I think she’ll be much more open than Brother Summers,” he says. “The hip-hop scared him. It’s a stereotypical reaction.”
A vocal opponent of misogyny and hedonism in contemporary hip-hop, West portrays his music as a “danceable education” reaching towards the genre’s socially progressive roots. “We’ll go from the bling-bling to Let Freedom Ring” Brother West raps in “Bushonomics,” before giving a shout-out to militant beat poet Gil Scott-Heron. The track features New York MC and black progressive Talib Kweli denouncing “voter registration with no scope of education,” “whore-mongerers,” and “war-mongerers” alike. Listen to it, and Prince collaboration “Dear Mr. Man,” below. Bushonomics Cornel West and Talib Kweli Dear Mr. Man Cornel West and Prince –MAUREEN O’CONNOR
Princeton Professor Cornel West likes to talk. And we (unless we’re on a sick streak in Text Twist) like to listen to him.
So naturally we flipped out upon learning that our favorite theologian/actor/MC would join 111 other “thinkers” at Dropping Knowledge, a day-long talk-a-thon held in Bebelplatz, Germany and moderated by Willem Dafoe. Basic idea: a hundred questions are read out loud, one by one, with about two minutes for the participants sitting around a massive roundtable to deliver answers into their personal webcams.
In West’s case, the result is 100 two-minute lectures on everything from God to biodiversity to the linking of machinery and the human brain. (We always knew The Matrix: Reloaded would come in handy!)
Anyone who hasn’t survived a Cornel West lecture needs to watch, like, three of these, and you’ll get the idea. Time really flies — West’s propensity for stream-of-consciousness sermonizing means each two-minute segment is only about three sentences long.
Money quote: Personal freedom is “people having the right to their own nonsense as long as they don’t engage in injurious harm to others. The right to believe what they want. To live a life, even if it appears nonsensical and ridiculous to others.”
A better summary of Cornel West’s career has yet to be found. Watch the videos here.