Oh, Brother

May 19, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

Gabriel Rossman at Code and Culture has a nice post – theory by Roger Gould, data by
Cornel West. Gould is talking about status hierarchies and reciprocity. West is talking about feeling snubbed by “my dear brother Barack Obama.”

Everybody, it seems, is West’s brother. “I was under the impression that he [Obama] might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman.” In the interview, recorded by Chris Hedges, West uses the word another ten times.

It reminded me of a story my brother (my real brother, Skip) told me long ago, back when he was an undergrad at U Chicago. Ralph Ellison had given a lecture there, and afterwards Skip asked him if The Brotherhood in Invisible Man was based on a real organization.

“It’s not the Communist Party, if that’s what you mean, Ellison said. He added that the idea of brotherhood had been used throughout history as a cover for a variety of unsavory schemes. “When someone starts calling you brother, Ellison said, stick your hands in your pockets. And cross your legs.”


Anonymous said...

Broke HTML in your link to Roger Gould

Jay Livingston said...

Thanks. It should be working now. It's JSTOR, so it might be gated.

razlich said...
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