The Rise of the Rural Creative Class

If anything, the arts may be even more important to rural innovation than they are to urban innovation. While my own research has drawn a connection between the arts and clusters of innovative high-tech startups in urban areas, Wojan and his colleague Bonnie Nichols’ data suggests an even stronger connection between arts and innovation in rural areas. And according to the NEA paper, probability that a rural firm will be a substantive innovator rises from 60 percent in rural counties with no performing arts organizations to nearly 70 percent for those that host two or three, to as high as 85 percent if a rural county hosts four or more.

Furthermore, the share of firms that are highly innovative rises sharply alongside performing arts organizations in rural areas. The probability that a rural business will be highly innovative increases from 17 percent to 44 percent as the number of performing arts organizations in a rural county increases from zero to one. When that number rises to two, the probability that a business will be highly innovative grows to 70 percent or higher.

The Invention of the “White Working Class”

We’ve been here before. Writing in the aftermath of World War II, the German philosopher and sociologist Theodor W. Adorno diagnosed what he called a “jargon of authenticity” in German culture. Shallow claims to authenticity were weaponized as justifications in and of themselves for otherwise inexcusable, or unexamined, ways of thinking, talking, relating, and behaving. Faced with the struggle and conflict of the modern world, authenticity was not so much found as strategically deployed. Jews, cities, “sinful intellectuality” were all deemed inauthentic, and as a result the jargon could serve to provide people with substitute templates that would reflect it instead of their real character: it would offer “patterns for being human … which have been driven out of them” and a mode of “reflected unreflectiveness.”

The similarities are eerie: Adorno identifies German authenticity language as “a trademark of societalized chosenness, noble and homey at once—sub-language as superior language. … While the jargon overflows with the pretense of deep human emotion, it is just as standardized as the world that it officially negates.” Then, as now, the simple and old-fashioned—the “authentic,” the “real”—are held up as noble and timeless, in contrast to the soulless, dangerous, diverse complexity of the modern city. The jargon that Adorno identifies is a fake authenticity imposed from outside. Culturally conservative, rural, pure character is a product of the jargon, which people are led to accept as authentic. Importantly, these are the same traits the authors of the books reviewed here ascribe to the WWC, thereby forming their own jargon of authenticity.

Many liberals, shocked and dismayed by the 2016 election, also seemed to understand the populist revolt in this way. How did it happen that “authentic” Americans—working-class ones, even—were so pivotal to the success of the divisive Republican campaign of a multibillionaire? How to understand this exotic culture next door?

Remembering Anthony Bourdain, Explorer And Enthusiast

…If he seemed to be profoundly driven about anything, it was not building the most restaurants. It was understanding more of the world each year than he had the year before. And he never suggested pity for the people he visited, no matter what their circumstances. He wasn’t there to suggest that a place, even one where the people were accustomed to being seen through the lens of their struggles, needed the touch of your benevolent hand as much as that it deserved your respect.

As for CNN, is there anything more profoundly connected to the news than our increasingly tenuous grasp on our ability to coexist? Is there anything more crucial than a counterweight that shows you a place — how many amazing things it has that you have never tried, how many amazing people it has whom you have never met — and asks you to see it as round instead of flat?

Regarding the Pain of Women

The majority of the 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain are women. In surveys that ask respondents whether they’ve had pain in different parts of the body over the last several months, greater proportions of women report pain. It’s a finding that’s fairly consistent across different populations: a 2008 study of tens of thousands of patients in over a dozen countries found that the prevalence of any chronic pain condition was 45 percent among women, compared to 31 percent among men.

Many of the most prevalent chronic pain conditions, such as osteoarthritis (OA), which affects over 30 million Americans, chronic low back pain (nearly 20 million), IBS (44 million), and migraine (36 million), are more common among women. Women are twice as likely to have autoimmune diseases, many of which bring with them persistent pain. Women are up to four times more likely to experience the bladder pain of interstitial cystitis (IC), the jaw pain of temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and the widespread, full-body pain of fibromyalgia. And some common chronic pain conditions almost exclusively affect women: vulvodynia, which causes pain around the vaginal opening, and endometriosis, which causes pelvic pain associated with menstruation.

Over the last few decades, there has been a paradigm shift in our understanding of chronic pain. Historically, and especially since the 20th century, medicine has considered pain to be a symptom of disease, one to be alleviated as much as possible, to be sure, but clinically relevant primarily as a clue pointing toward the underlying problem. “Cure the disease, and cure the pain” has been the assumption. While this principle may hold true of acute pain, in many cases, according to the International Association for the Study of Pain, “chronic pain is a disease in its own right.”