What I'm reading: from ideology to knitting

William Davies reviews Thomas Piketty's Capital and Ideology, The Guardian.

Capital and Ideology is an astonishing experiment in social science, one that defies easy comparison. In its ambition, obsessive testimony and sheer oddness, it is closer to the spirit of Karl Ove Knausgård than of Karl Marx. It alternates between sweeping generalities about the nature of justice and the kind of wonkery that one might expect from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, often in the same paragraph. It is occasionally naive (it will bug the hell out of historians and anthropologists) but in a provocative fashion, as if to say: if inequality isn’t justified, why not change it?

Martin Filler, Trump's Towering Folly on Federal Architecture (New York Review of Books).

Because of the thoroughgoing threat to democracy signaled by the Republican Party’s abject capitulation to Trump, I’ve heretofore thought it frivolous to address the aesthetics of the current regime, mindful of that old saw about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. That was my attitude until February 4, when Architectural Record broke a news story about a proposed executive order that would make it mandatory for all new federally sponsored buildings to adhere to a Classical style. This effective ban on modern architecture commissioned by the US government is horrifyingly reminiscent of Hitler’s insistence that public buildings in the Third Reich hew to the Classical tradition (though usually a stripped-down version of it) and that modern design, except for some industrial uses, was streng verboten (strictly forbidden).

Aleesha Paz, Raise Your Needles, Public Books (originally published in the Sydney Review of Books)

Historically, knitting wasn’t linked to any particular gender. This gendering only developed in the last couple of centuries, but ever since it became a women’s activity knitting has struggled to be recognised as valuable, skilled work. To knit in public is to cast off any shame associated with the craft, and seeing other members of your community engage in this transformative process legitimises knitting for the crafty individual and also normalises its presence in public places.

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