BlackOxford’s review of The Sellout > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve I'm seriously contemplating this as my next book. Your stellar review, and reminder of the complexities of racial attitudes, are enough to persuade me. I'm looking forward to seeing how the comic elements mix in. I'm sure it's quite an achievement.


message 2: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford Thanks Steve. I haven't read anything else like it. Shocking and comical simultaneously. You certainly won't regret the investment.


message 3: by Lilo (last edited Nov 25, 2016 02:27PM) (new)

Lilo I don't know whether this has much to do with the above book, but I have made the observation that some of our cats are "racists", or maybe, they are only superstitious.

We have one tortoise cat who doesn't like black cats. She even acted hostile towards one of our black cats who was (he has, meanwhile, died) the most mellow and friendly cat we had ever had. We had adopted the tortoise cat as a young kitten from the local shelter. We do, of course, have no idea if she had any negative experiences with any black cat(s) during the first 6 weeks of her life. (She, certainly, was never treated badly by any of our black cats.)

Another of our cats (a b/w tabby) hates all orange cats. (We have 4 of them.) In this case, there is a back-story. The declared enemy of this (b/w tabby) cat is a feral orange cat, with which he has been in numerous fights (resulting in significant injuries). However, we do not know whether this cat's hate of all orange cats is a result of the ongoing war with the feral orange cat, or wether the ongoing war with this cat is a result of the b/w tabby's "racist" dislike of orange cats.

Could it be that racism is somehow in the nature of animals and humans? Or is it only that some negative experiences (might only be the negative remarks of other people or the negative portrayal of other races in literature, movies, advertising, etc.) trigger it? Or is it that humans (and possibly animals) are afraid of anyone different from themselves, and this difference causes rejection?

Another explanation for (human) racism is that people with low self-esteem welcome the discrimination of other races, ethnic groups, nationalities, and religious groups because this makes them feel superior to them. (This would not apply to cats. :-) The Nazis (many of them uneducated and unsuccessful in life) loved it to be declared members of a "master race". And they loved it even more that the Jews (with most German Jews highly educated, highly intelligent, and successful in life) were declared inferior to them.

Or could racism be a mixture of it all?


message 4: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford Lilo, the best explanation I've been able to find for racism and similarly horrid human behaviour is that by Rene Girard. See my review of Discovering Girard for some reasons. Unfortunately I don't think he thought about cats.


message 5: by Lilo (last edited Nov 25, 2016 10:19PM) (new)

Lilo Michael wrote: "Lilo, the best explanation I've been able to find for racism and similarly horrid human behaviour is that by Rene Girard. See my review of Discovering Girard for some reasons. Unfortunately I don't..."

I just checked out and LIKEd your review of "Discovering Girard". I also read the Wikipedia page on Girard. I am afraid that Girard's philosophical theory is a bit too high for me. Isn't there a more simple explanation for racism? Cats (or other animals) may not give the answer, but I still think that Girard's theory is a bit far off. There may be something to it, but I don't think it can fully explain either racism or violence.


message 6: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford Lilo wrote: "Michael wrote: "Lilo, the best explanation I've been able to find for racism and similarly horrid human behaviour is that by Rene Girard. See my review of Discovering Girard for some reasons. Unfor..."
Well who knows, cats may have the answer. Unfortunately they can't tell us what it is. As I get older I realise very few things in life are as simple as I once thought.


message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Current issue of NYRB has fine review by Darryl Pinckney. Looking forward to reading this one.


message 8: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford Thanks Tom. I'll try to get it online.


message 9: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford Just read it, Tom. That's why he writes for the NYRB all right. I'm flattered because he used the quote I did. Of course he used a few others as well...


message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom Great critics think alike, n'est ce pas.


message 11: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Robinson Well said.


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