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Lorde & The Life of Privilege

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Because none of us knows everything.

Lorde’s critique of wealth (covered memorably by Puddles Pity Party) got me thinking about privilege. Her catchy pop tune about pop tunes is itself an expression of privilege. Not so much the gold teeth and Grey Goose (spendy vodka) as it is the kind of information she allows herself to dwell on: those privileged sources she and we take as true.12092013-paul-noth-a-bobbing-duck-toy-is-dipping-its-beak-into-a-glass-of-water-new-yorker-cartoon

We all have privileged sources.

We might be a red-letter Christian or only read the Apostle Paul. We might consider sacred and true everything we hear on Fox News or NPR or read in the St. Paul Villager. We might listen more closely to a Marxist/feminist/liberation theology reading of any piece of literature. We want the commentator representing our particular bent to comment on life from the perspective of our tribe.

Humans are subjective beings and we do our best work from a perspective. We always have opinions and those opinions are based on whatever we scrape together and push under us, which is to say, we often form opinions first and then seek to support them. Every once in a while we form opinions from available evidence using solid reasoning. But that’s a lot of work.

What texts or authors or people in your life do you privilege? My two friends Rick and Jason often make remarkable book suggestions. Time and again as I’ve read their suggestions, I’ve thought: “Wow. This author is really talking to me.” My friend Russ has made prescient comments that have worked out in real life years later—so I’ve learned to not dismiss his chatter too quickly. My poor beleaguered friend Job wrote poetry possessing an uncanny ability to express my exact experience. Mrs. Kirkistan often sees things before I do. (Often? No: Usually. Typically.)

It’s not wrong to privilege our information sources—we cannot help ourselves. But it is also right to pause to examine what it is we privilege and occasionally ask why and whether we are served well by that privileged source. And perhaps to ask whether there might be other influences that can help us truth things out a bit more fully. Because (and here comes the hard part) even the John MacArthur’s of the world can have their truth sharpened by a Marxist/Feminist/Pentecostal/Whatever perspective.

Because none of us knows everything.

And I hope Lorde watches her lyrics cross the face of PuddlesPityParty. There is something revealing about the scary-tall grownup in clown costume belting out a teenager’s perspective on the world.


Image Credit: Paul Noth/The New Yorker via thisisn’thappiness

Written by kirkistan

December 9, 2013 at 8:39 am

5 Responses

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  1. “Form opinions first and then seek to support them” – guilty. Good post, Kirk.


    December 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

    • Likewise. Too often. Thanks for reading.


      December 9, 2013 at 9:33 am

  2. […] See also: Lorde & The Life of Privilege (Part I) […]

  3. […] I like Kazanjian’s twist on objectivity (which is also a statement on what we privilege): […]

  4. […] culture from subculture and truth from fiction. Eisegesis vs. exegesis. Questioning which texts I privilege and why. Such unwinding and rewinding seems like waking up to the world around me. I’m mostly […]

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