Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Letter to Mom (Or, Ryan Discovers the Already Known and Points Out the Obvious)


I first saw Keith Olbermann’s show on MSNBC about two years ago. My initial impression was, wow, poignant criticism is possible in the mainstream media. For a while, my faith was restored. But as I grew familiar with his usual topics and his shrill rhetorical style, I began to suspect that this wasn’t real criticism at all, that it was the illusion of criticism. In other words, the mainstream media had found a way to incorporate into their narrative certain superficial elements of real criticism (of, for example, U.S. foreign policy), but only after the criticism had been sanitized and emptied of its contents. Thus, certain subjects, indeed the most important ones, remained either taboo or misrepresented.

Though I was vaguely aware of this phenomenon, I had no idea until yesterday that a name actually existed for it. Actually, there are two names for it: “recuperation” and “incorporation.” According to my 『文学批評用語辞典』 dictionary here beside me (sorry, I can’t find the English definitions anywhere):

And “incorporation”:

You see, Mom, Marxism can come in handy from time to time.

Your dutiful son,


Anonymous said...


From wikipedia:

I can't find anything on "incorporation," though.

Also, here's a good general glossary you might want to look at:


J. Margaret said...

I love Keith, but like everyone else, he had to temper things because they were going to fire him and take him off the air.

You are right, it is now just an illusion. I really haven't watched him much since the election, I got burned out. Now I am consumed with reading up on your brother's condition. Thank goodness my research on my own Chiari prepared me for more medical stuff to research.

The Suns are playing the Pacers, dad and Brett are at the game. love mom

Anonymous said...


You always might want to look into Greenblatt's notion of "containment."

-Sarah Frey