Much of the online fretting about the story focuses on the morality of the characters, the nature of the “consensual but unwanted” sex, the relative relatability of the characters (women relate to the woman, many men hate her, and also hate the man, inversely relating to them both, enraged as if she were a real woman person who dissed their dicks, as if they were Weinstein destroying Mira Sorvino’s career), the backlash about how relatability isn’t the point of fiction, and then defensiveness about how, actually, relatability is quite difficult to accomplish. Continue reading
Adam Gopnik starts like a review of Transparent then swerves, agile, toward understanding why Donald Duck poses an existential threat to our nation and to the world.
And he uses the f-word.
The best New Yorker article I read in months wasn’t about homeless teens or schizophrenia (actually that one was dope. Immunization genes (!!!) disproportionately influence the development of schizophrenia (!?!??) through neural structures that act as pruning shears such that certain regions of the brains of schizophrenic people are over-sheared like when my dad pruned the peach tree so aggressively it stopped bearing fruit).
It was most decidedly not the recent Gay Talese spew about a dude who bought and modified a motel in my town to spy on unwitting guests and catalog their proclivities that I cannot believe the friggin New Yorker friggin published. The sexism alone. The wholely undigested this-is-what-Talese-thinks-about-what-this-dude-thinks-about-himself, the very worst impulses of the New Journalism as if decades of feminism, gay rights, and sophisticated, elucidating long form nonfiction hadn’t happened, undigested like when the pet’s vomit looks like the pet’s food fresh out the bag plus some glistening. As if we don’t know better than to be seduced by two layers of un-self-conscious narcissistic privilege into our becoming voyeurs through an actually paid-for book excerpt whose disguise as journalism is as flimsy as the voyeur subject’s delusions of ethical social scientific research. I won’t even dignify it with a link.
Back at the ranch, Louis Menand reflects on ways our popular self-help books reflect the labor needs of our dominant economies.
Ford and Taylor maximized the efficiency of bodies laboring in factories. How to Win Friends and Influence People Taylorized the the salesman in the grey flannel suit, disciplining his personality to a mid-century service economy.
You know how sometimes you can’t tell whether a story or TV show or film is either sexist or critiquing sexism?
You don’t have to keep reading just to see if it ever gets to the critique. Or, like, try to see what the hell it’s doing in the New Yorker in the first place.
Blink that slime away and move on with your life.
I dropped everything to read last week’s New Yorker report on the MOOCification of higher ed. Naively forgetting that this austere publication’s emphasis is decidedly elite. What with its umlauts and ninja writing and sassy annual contests celebrating itself.
The piece wasn’t really about MOOCs. It was about Harvard’s experiments with MOOCs. And a few kooky professors (Harvard Kooky emphatically different than State School Kooky, o’course) trying to adapt their lectures to 12 minute chunks of TED-friendly learning units.
Heller’s most cogent critique of MOOCification was the Nostalgia/Fantasy Critique, in which his college experience mirrored our every dream of the liberal arts. Intimate scholarly exchanges with professors, serendipitous juxtapositions of ideas exploding into KNOWLEDGE and TRUTH firebursts reflecting starrily in a 19 year old’s impressionable irises.
And seriously? He only talked to Harvard people. Plus a few at Amherst.