South Africa: How Eusebius Mckaiser's Review of 'White' Presages a Rupture in Culture Wars

opinion

Let's look at what philosophical and ideological touchstones seem absent from mainstream 'woke' discourse, how the excerpts that McKaiser read from 'White' underscore those shortcomings, and why it's crucial to reinforce those joints before they're pressure-tested.

Conventional wisdom says one shouldn't write about a book one has just started. But this article isn't about Bret Easton Ellis's White (Random House, 2019) as much as Eusebius McKaiser's engagement with it. The book's title and McKaiser's choice to review it make me think he's foreseeing a shift in political and ideological winds we'd do well to get ahead of.

"Wokeness", as it's sometimes called, is like postmodernism in its lack of some of the philosophical and ideological touchstones that have anchored other major movements. McKaiser's willingness to read White matters, because beyond symbolic solidarity on the part of the privileged, the systemic policy implications of wokeness are going to require answers to the kinds of questions raised, perhaps in an insensitive tone at a sensitive time, by White.

McKaiser clarified that he wasn't defending Ellis's body of work; he hadn't read him exhaustively or even finished White. But I suspect McKaiser said this to skirt the possibility of the proponents of "cancel...

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