For Hickey, as for writers like Havel and Klíma, "the language of pleasure and the language of justice are inextricably intertwined." Thus, when he takes on the issue of multiculturalism in his essay "Shining Hours/Forgiving Rhyme," Hickey begins not with a discussion of individual rights and collective wrongs, but with a memory of pleasure. For several thousand words -- an eternity by American journalistic standards -- he summons up a 1940s childhood afternoon in which he watched his white jazzman father jam with two black beboppers and a refugee German pianist in suburban Texas. Bluntly reminding us not to read this scene as "an allegory of ethnic federalism," he then turns to the paintings of Norman Rockwell. In them, as in the jam session, Hickey identifies a quintessentially democratic leveling. If American high art -- and, by implication, the high academic theory of identity politics -- promote hierarchy and exclusiveness, then in Hickey's view, jazz and the paintings of Rockwell reveal the possibility of inclusion and equality. Moreover, as Hickey's afternoon with his father suggests, that possibility is not merely an ideal -- it can actually be lived.Link Discuss (Thanks, Tim!)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.