27 July 2014

Radical (adj.)

This keeps coming up. So a quick word about radicalism.

“Radical” does not mean violent, bad, extreme, or “too much”. It means, literally, striking at the root.

A radical leftist thinks you cannot improve our political institutions, you have to replace them. A radical feminist believes that you cannot simply pass a few laws to give women equal rights, you need to transform the whole of a sexist society. A radical fundamentalist Christian believes that Christianity must be understood as reading the whole text of the Bible literally. One can advocate radical change in teaching curriculum for math or manufacturing methods for automobiles or programming languages for computers or women's fashion for the next season.

I use the word “radical” descriptively, not as dismissal or an insult. Many things need a radical approach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you find Dave Eggers interesting? Ever popped over to McSweeney's for a looksie? Ever snarked about it after doing so? Dost thou have an opinion about this Bay Area author's book "The Circle"?

I ask because I just finished reading it. As a long-time reader of your blog (when I find myself on the right side of the digital divide), I am more than curious about what that elegant mind of yours would make of the issues Eggers takes on. Especially given your intimacy with cyber-culture, your fluency with its language and trends.

Me? I have my thoughts. But they tend toward feelings and impressions that are, if anything, preverbal, and only come out well in discussion when I am forced to translate them into words.

I realize this comment is unrelated to your post, so I apologize and will close the circle of this comment by telling you I appreciate the clarification about what radical means. I'm a radical. I've suffered for it. My brain doesn't work as well as it used to because of what trauma does to the prefrontal cortex. And I get to experience what it feels like to be smart again when I read your radical blog. Thank you for writing it.